Best of 2014

Happy New Year’s Eve Everyone! Once again, it is time reflect on the year’s best/worst movies! Let the list commence!
BEST OLDER FILM FIRST SEEN IN 2014, RUNNER-UP: Songs From the Second Floor – Bite sized chunks of delightfully bleak Swedish absurdism!
BEST OLDER FILM FIRST SEEN IN 2014: The Fall – Fantastical, with a hint of darkness; one of the most beautiful films I have seen
BEST 2015 FILM SEEN IN 2014, RUNNER-UP: What We Do In the Shadows – Side-splittingly brilliant vampire mockumentary
BEST 2015 FILM SEEN IN 2014: ’71 – Gripping and thrilling war drama of a British soldier stranded on the streets of Dublin in 1971
MOST OVERLOOKED 2014 FILM, RUNNER-UP: Tracks – The better of the two woman v. nature journey flicks this year; worth tracking down
MOST OVERLOOKED 2014 FILM: Belle – This wonderful semi-historical romantic drama was lost amid the start of the summer blockbusters
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2014 FILM, RUNNER-UP: Birdman – The astonishing camerawork is let down by a bland showbiz sad-sack tale
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2014 FILM: Interstellar – Great promise dissolves into fourth dimensional woo while trying too hard to be 2001.5
WORST 2014 FILM, RUNNER-UP: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – This unimaginative unnecessary sequel commits the worst sin: being boring.
WORST 2014 FILM: God’s Not Dead – This sloppy, disjointed preach-to-the-choir mess abuses the intelligence of Christians and atheists alike
BEST 2014 MOVIE TRAILER, RUNNER-UP: Godzilla (First Teaser) – The HALO jump is eerily beautiful and full of dread…just like Godzilla!
BEST 2014 MOVIE TRAILER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens – If the film is half as inspired as these 7 short snippets, we will be truly lucky!
BEST 2014 HORROR FILM, RUNNER-UP: Under the Skin – This alien art-flick has the most hypnotic, subtle, and disturbing scenes this year
BEST 2014 HORROR FILM: The Babadook – Much much more than a mere psychotic supernatural monster flick. Ba-baaaaa DOOK DOOOK DOOOOOOOK!
BEST 2014 ANIMATED FILM, RUNNER-UP: Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Fantastically gorgeous animation highlights this Japanese folktale
BEST 2014 ANIMATED FILM: The LEGO Movie – This infectiously delightful movie wonderfully transcends its mere toy-commercial origins
BEST 2014 ACTION FILM, RUNNER-UP: Captain America: The Winter Soldier – This genre-busting superhero thriller is tremendous fun
BEST 2014 ACTION FILM: Edge of Tomorrow – Exciting and thrilling, this pulse-pounding twisty SF tale again proves Cruise transcendent
BEST 2014 FOREIGN FILM, RUNNER-UP: Like Father, Like Son – Heartbreaking Japanese drama about two boys switched-at-birth.
BEST 2014 FOREIGN FILM: Wild Tales – This terrific darkly comic Argentine anthology is wacky, unpredictable, violent, and hilarious
BEST 2014 SCREENPLAY, RUNNER-UP: Gone Girl – A tricky adaptation done right
BEST 2014 SCREENPLAY: The Grand Budapest Hotel – A nested folding structure only enhances the Wes Anderson brand whimsy
BEST 2014 SCENE, RUNNER-UP: Classroom Car in Snowpiercer – The sojurn into the Snowpiercer classroom remains an unexpected surreal delight
BEST 2014 SCENE: Pentagon Jailbreak in X-Men: Days of Future Past – Quicksilver’s Time in a Bottle moment was absolute pure fun
BEST 2014 DOG IN FILM, RUNNER-UP: Winston (as Winston in Feast) – This animated Boston “terrier” simply eats up the competition
BEST 2014 DOG IN FILM: Special Agent Gibbs (as Diggity in Tracks) – Loyal and true, none could wish for a better Outback companion
5TH BEST 2014 ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – The rock at the center of this inventive film should have been given more to do…
5TH BEST 2014 ACTOR: Tom Hardy, Locke/The Drop – A duo of amazing, transformative performances from Tom Hardy
4TH BEST 2014 ACTOR: Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel – His mannered concierge transcends caricature and ranks among his best work
4TH BEST 2014 ACTRESS: Julianne Moore, Still Alice – Brutally devastating portrayal of a descent from intellectualism to dementia
3RD BEST 2014 ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer/Only Lovers Left Alive/The Grand Budapest Hotel – Tilda can do anything!
3RD BEST 2014 ACTOR: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler – Who is this hypnotic reptile that has replaced Jake Gyllenhaal?
2ND BEST 2014 ACTOR: Jeremy Renner, The Immigrant/Kill the Messenger – Renner gives a pair of strong performances in two little-seen films
2ND BEST 2014 ACTRESS: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle/Beyond the Lights – Two standout performances herald great things from Gugu Mbatha-Raw
BEST 2014 ACTRESS: Essie Davis, The Babadook – As the distressed mother at the center of this horror spiral, Davis is simply amazing
BEST 2014 ACTOR: JK Simmons, Whiplash – An absolutely riveting performance as the snarling ball of spite who yet somehow inspires greatness
5TH BEST 2014 FILM: Belle – This beautiful romantic drama plays like a lost Jane Austen novel. A pure treasure!
4TH BEST 2014 FILM: The Imitation Game – This well acted and fascinating tale shows how a good, solid biopic should be done
3RD BEST 2014 FILM: The Grand Budapest Hotel – This quintessence of Wes Anderson films is a delight from start to finish
2ND BEST 2014 FILM: Citizenfour – A triumph. A vitally important historical document, as well as a top-of-the-line technothriller
BEST 2014 FILM: Whiplash – The mesmerizing battle of wills at the center of this abusive teacher-student tale is pure gold

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Best of 2013

Happy 2014 Everybody! Having seen 520 films last year, and finished up with the Film Registry lists, it’s time for my 2013 movie awards!
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM, RUNNER UP – This is Cinerama – Gorgeous cinematography surpasses the Cinerama gimmick.
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM – 3:10 to Yuma – This 1957 Glenn Ford/Van Heflin western is twisty, suspenseful fun.
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2013, RUNNER UP – Pulp Fiction – Still fresh even after spawning so many inferior imitators.
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2013 – Schindler’s List – Twenty years later, Spielberg’s powerful masterpiece still enthralls.
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2013, RUNNER UP – Barton Fink – The Coen Brothers finest film…and that’s saying quite a bit!
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2013 – Sátántangó – This eight-hour black-and-white Hungarian epic is purely awe-inspiring.
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2013, RUNNER UP – Like Father, Like Son – This Japanese switched-at-birth drama doesn’t pull any punches.
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2013 – Belle – A gorgeous and delightful film which deftly remixes the Jane Austenesque period drama.
MOST OVERLOOKED 2013 FILM, RUNNER UP – Side Effects – This twisty and fun thriller dumped at the beginning of the year deserves a 2nd look.
MOST OVERLOOKED 2013 FILM – I Declare War – A tiny, yet amazing, film which depicts the twists and turns of children playing at war.
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2013 FILM, RUNNER UP – Captain Philips – Decentish, but not even the best captured-by-Somalian-pirates movie this year.
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2013 FILM – World War Z – A masterpiece of a book. A truly mediocre movie. Shoulda been an epic miniseries instead.
WORST 2013 FILM, RUNNER UP – GI Joe Retaliation – A pure muddled mess…and that was with pretty low expectations going in.
WORST 2013 FILM – The Internship – The most annoying movie-length piece of product-placement since Mac And Me.
BEST 2013 MOVIE TRAILER, RUNNER UP – Man of Steel – Mythic, powerful, beautiful. Captured the essence of a down-to-earth Superman.
BEST 2013 MOVIE TRAILER – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Amazing and inspiring. If only the movie were as half as good.
BEST 2013 HORROR FILM, RUNNER UP – You’re Next – A fun twist on the home-invasion horror genre.
BEST 2013 HORROR FILM – Sightseers – A witty, darkly comic romp through the English countryside with a pair of unlikely murderers.
BEST 2013 ACTION FILM, RUNNER UP – Iron Man Three – Writer/Director Shane Black is still a master at crafting a superb action film.
BEST 2013 ACTION FILM – Gravity – An absolute thrill ride. Easily the most edge-of-your-seat excitement of the year, if not decade.
BEST 2013 COMEDY, RUNNER UP – The Heat – Sandra Bullock goes 2-0 this year, and Melissa McCarthy…well, let’s just forget Identity Thief.
BEST 2013 COMEDY – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – Surpasses the original in nearly every way; funnier than a film has any right to be.
BEST 2013 ANIMATED FILM, RUNNER UP – Despicable Me 2 – In a weak year for animation, the Evil Minions helped this sequel stand apart.
BEST 2013 ANIMATED FILM – Frozen – A dazzling return to the classic Disney fairytale musical, with a surprisingly intricate plot.
BEST 2013 FOREIGN FILM, RUNNER UP – No – A Chilean drama about a political ad campaign? Can it be any good? Yes.
BEST 2013 FOREIGN FILM – A Hijacking – Now this is the way to have a captured-by-Somali-pirates movie. Take that, Captain Philips!
BEST 2013 SCENE, RUNNER UP – The hanging, 12 Years a Slave – You can’t tear your eyes away from the screen during this long, painful take.
BEST 2013 SCENE – The debris field hits, Gravity – Cuaron ups the ante on his single-take sequences in Children of Men, and succeeds.
BEST 2013 SCREENPLAY, RUNNER UP – American Hustle – I told you not to put the metal in the science oven!!!
BEST 2013 SCREENPLAY – Before Midnight – Linklater, Hawke and Delpy manage to surpass themselves in the highlight of their trilogy.
BEST 2013 DOG ON FILM, RUNNER UP – Baxter, Anchorman 2 – Alas, Doby is ineligible for this award. Surely Baxter would have beat him anyway!
BEST 2013 DOG ON FILM – Poppy/Banjo, Sightseers – Watch out for those knitting needles!
BEST 2013 ACTRESS, RUNNER UP – Amy Adams – American Hustle – An incredible layered performance that elevates Adams way out of her box.
BEST 2013 ACTRESS – Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave – A stellar and heartbreaking performance by this relative newcomer.
BEST 2013 ACTOR, RUNNER UP – Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave – A compelling and nuanced portrayal at the center of this strong film.
BEST 2013 ACTOR – Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club – Leto returns to acting with a terrifically stunning, transformative role.
BEST 2013 FILM, RUNNER UP – 12 Years a Slave – A hard film to watch, but an incredibly powerful and rewarding one when you do.
BEST 2013 FILM – Gravity – By all means, see this on the biggest screen available; this is the stuff for which movies exist. Wow!

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Best of 2012

Happy New Year Everybody! Time for my Movie Best-of and Worst-of 2012 Lists….
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM, RUNNER UP – Precious Images – A fantastic collage of great scenes from great movies.
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM – Days of Heaven – Malick’s best film: beautiful images and very little navel-gazing.
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2012, RUNNER UP – Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Spielberg’s Americana blends wonder & fright
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2012 – The Conversation – Better than The Godfather, this eerie thriller is Coppola’s masterpiece
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2012, RUNNER UP – Stalker – Andrei Tarkovsky’s minimalist SF tale is haunting yet fascinating
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2012 – Barry Lyndon – Stanley Kubrick’s highly underrated period piece is a spectacular piece of filmcraft
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2012, RUNNER UP – Much Ado About Nothing – Joss Whedon’s playful modern adaptation of the Bard’s comedy
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2012 – Sightseers – This wickedly funny dark dark dark comedy is a violently amusing road trip.
MOST OVERLOOKED 2012 FILM, RUNNER UP – Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – An apocalyptic romantic comedy, what’s not to like?
MOST OVERLOOKED 2012 FILM – Bernie – Jack Black gives a great (atypical) performance in this hidden gem, with authentic East Texas flavor
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2012 FILM, RUNNER UP – The Master – PT Anderson’s winning streak ends with this hit-and-miss (but mostly miss) drama
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2012 FILM – Prometheus – Might have been an amazing SF film without the constant shoehorning into the Alien franchise
WORST 2012 FILM, RUNNER UP – The Moth Diaries – This insipid and lifeless vampire story simply remains bland bland bland
WORST 2012 FILM – Killer Joe – This repugnant dark comedy tries desperately to be irreverently amusing, & utterly fails each and every time
BEST 2012 MOVIE TRAILER, RUNNER UP – Les Misérables – Perfectly merges emotional highs of I Dreamed A Dream with gritty, beautiful vistas
BEST 2012 MOVIE TRAILER – Cloud Atlas – An ambitious six minute masterpiece that in some ways is more satisfying than the actual film.
BEST 2012 HORROR FILM, RUNNER UP – Kill List – Humorous, gruesome, and deeply disturbing. What more do you want in a horror film?
BEST 2012 HORROR FILM – Cabin in the Woods – Tears apart & reconstructs the essence of a horror film; then those elevator doors open…
BEST 2012 COMEDY, RUNNER UP – Bernie – Darkly comic & peopled with humorously eccentric characters that feel plucked out of real life
BEST 2012 COMEDY – Silver Linings Playbook – An utterly winning romantic comedy. Excelsior!
BEST 2012 ACTION FILM, RUNNER UP – The Avengers – Whedon’s mix of humor & genre sensibilities make this romp more than the sum of its parts
BEST 2012 ACTION FILM – The Grey – Not just Liam Neeson punching wolves, it packs unexpected emotional depth and genuine thrills as well.
BEST 2012 ANIMATED FILM, RUNNER UP – ParaNorman – A stop motion zombie film for kids; inventive playful & with an unusually deep message
BEST 2012 ANIMATED FILM – Wreck-It Ralph – Not simply a Toy Story clone, this love letter to videogames of yore is also a blast to watch
BEST 2012 FOREIGN FILM, RUNNER UP – A Royal Affair – Fascinating romantic portrait of the 18th century doctor Johann Struensee
BEST 2012 FOREIGN FILM – Amour – A heartbreaking love story chronicles the painful decline of an ailing woman and her devoted husband
BEST 2012 SCENE, RUNNER UP – Prometheus never again reaches the heights of the simple sequence of Michael Fassbender roaming the corridors
BEST 2012 SCENE – Riddles in the Dark, The Hobbit – Two plus hours in, this masterful scene arrives and suddenly makes it all worthwhile
BEST 2012 SCREENPLAY, RUNNER UP – Looper – This original time travel tale is always two steps ahead, zigging where you think it would zag
BEST 2012 SCREENPLAY – The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Perks hits all the right notes with vibrant characters and crackling dialogue
BEST 2012 DOG IN FILM, RUNNER UP – Sparky in Frankenweenie – His Family Dog DNA perfectly encapsulates all that a dog should be
BEST 2012 DOG IN FILM – Bonny the Shih Tzu in Seven Psychopaths. The central figure in this dognapping tale is positively endearing. Paw!
BEST 2012 ACTRESS, RUNNER UP – Emmanuelle Riva, Amour – It is incredibly tragic to watch her joyous spark be slowly extinguished
BEST 2012 ACTRESS – Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables – She fully commits to the role and exposes every raw, emotional nerve in the process
BEST 2012 ACTOR, RUNNER UP – Tom Holland – Not since Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun has a child actor commanded the screen like this.
BEST 2012 ACTOR – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln – No one will ever be able to think of Lincoln again without picturing him in this role.
BEST 2012 FILM, RUNNER UP – Anna Karenina – Bold and daring, this unconventional adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel is stunningly gorgeous.
BEST 2012 FILM – The Impossible – This moving & terrifyingly realistic disaster drama is a powerful tale of the triumph of the human spirit

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Best of 2011

Happy New Year! Time for my 2011 Movie lists…..

BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM, RUNNER UP – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Can’t believe I hadn’t seen this before!
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM – The Pawnbroker – A very powerful film that somehow slipped under my radar.
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2011, RUNNER UP – A Clockwork Orange – A bezoomny bit of sinny, but a very dobby one
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2011 – Lawrence of Arabia – Proved once again why it’s my favorite film of all time.
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2011, RUNNER UP – Andrei Rublev – Violent, yet vital and breathtaking. Criterion blu-ray needed pronto!
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2011 – The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – Bittersweet but dazzling; makes me long for the age of musicals.
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2011, RUNNER UP – Damsels in Distress – Whimsically sharp dialogue peppers this ultra-quirky comedy
BEST UNRELEASED FILM SEEN IN 2011 – I Wish – Utterly delightful Japanese film that captures the whimsical innocence of childhood.
MOST OVERLOOKED 2011 FILM, RUNNER UP – Super – This dark superhero comedy was one of my favorite unreleased films from 2010.
MOST OVERLOOKED 2011 FILM – Tyrannosaur – An ultralimited release didn’t do justice to this powerful film about violence and redemption.
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2011 FILM, RUNNER UP – Cowboys and Aliens – A great cast, and an intriguing premise fall flat on screen.
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2011 FILM – Battle: Los Angeles – What could have been The Hurt Locker meets ID4, instead opts to be Skyline 2.
WORST 2011 FILM, RUNNER UP – Season of the Witch – Yet another in a long line of bad decisions by poor Nicolas Cage.
WORST 2011 FILM – Sucker Punch – Purely abysmal. Proof that CGI visuals alone could no longer carry a film by 2011.
BEST 2011 MOVIE TRAILER, RUNNER UP – War Horse – Pure Spielberg.  Manipulative as hell, but he’s got it down to a science.
BEST 2011 MOVIE TRAILER – Super 8 – Yet this trailer out-Spielbergs Spielberg; too bad the movie itself couldn’t live up to the nostalgia.
BEST 2011 HORROR FILM, RUNNER UP – You’re Next – A little uneven; but this home invasion horror flick has enough twists to stand out.
BEST 2011 HORROR FILM – Insidious – Still as creepy as when I saw it in 2010. Its strengths allow you to ignore the weak final act.
BEST 2011 COMEDY, RUNNER UP – Crazy. Stupid. Love. – This comedy shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it pushes all the right buttons.
BEST 2011 COMEDY – The Artist – Perhaps the most heartwarmingly enjoyable time I had at the movies all year.
BEST 2011 ACTION FILM, RUNNER UP – Hanna – A modern-day fairy tale that shows how to do the teen-girl-assassin genre right.
BEST 2011 ACTION FILM – Drive – The action is minimalist, sudden and shocking in this thriller with retro stylings.
BEST 2011 ANIMATED FILM, RUNNER UP – The Adventures of Tintin – Loads of fun action make up for the slightly glassy look of the eyes.
BEST 2011 ANIMATED FILM – Rango – A quirky ode to westerns past, with perhaps the ugliest menagerie ever to grace an animated film.
BEST 2011 FOREIGN FILM, RUNNER UP – Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – This Turkish police procedural is long and meditative, yet riveting.
BEST 2011 FOREIGN FILM – A Separation – Separations abound in this Iranian drama, most importantly the one splitting perspective & truth.
BEST 2011 SCENE, RUNNER UP – The Burj Khalifa climb in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  Truly dizzying action.
BEST 2011 SCENE – The opening montage in Melancholia. Nearly worth the price of admission alone to see it and skip the dreary remainder.
BEST 2011 SCREENPLAY, RUNNER UP – Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen delivers plenty of gems in this charming comic look at nostalgia.
BEST 2011 SCREENPLAY – Young Adult – Maturing past Juno-isms, Diablo Cody creates an unflinchingly raw and funny character study.
BEST 2011 DOG IN FILM, RUNNER UP (tie) – Cosmo, Beginners – As the only dog with (translated) dialogue, he has a paw up on his competition.
BEST 2011 DOG IN FILM, RUNNER UP (tie) – Snowy, The Adventures of Tintin – A wire haired fox terrier with charm and wit to spare.
BEST 2011 DOG IN FILM – Uggie, The Artist – In a year full of strong dog roles, Uggie steals every scene he’s in, and steals this win too.
BEST 2011 ACTRESS, RUNNER UP – Jennifer Ehle, Contagion – Full of charm, warmth and bravado; a true standout in a strong ensemble cast.
BEST 2011 ACTRESS – Olivia Coleman, Tyrannosaur – She delivers an eloquent meditation on forgiveness in a brutal, violent film.
BEST 2011 ACTOR, RUNNER UP – Robert Forster, The Descendants – His handful of scenes as a cranky grandpa are packed with humor and emotion.
BEST 2011 ACTOR – Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Caesar the ape is the best performance, motion captured or not, of the year.
BEST 2011 FILM, RUNNER UP – The Artist – In a year filled with love notes to cinema past, this familiar charmer dances to the top.
BEST 2011 FILM – Tyrannosaur – Extremely hard to watch at times; but this film has stuck with me throughout the year like no other.

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Welcome to the new Cinematter!

Welcome to the New Cinematter.  New content will be appearing here soon!  Hopefully…

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Best of 2010

I saw a record 633 films (new and old) during 2010…here were my various favorites, starting with vintage film picks, then 2010:
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM, RUNNER UP – Love Me Tonight (1932) – Rodgers and Hart present the first great musical
BEST PREVIOUSLY UNSEEN NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM – Tol’able David (1921) – Powerful silent gem about bravery and heroism
BEST SILENT NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2010, RUNNER UP – Modern Times (1936) – Chaplin’s absolute masterpiece of comedy
BEST SILENT NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2010 – Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) – One of the most beautiful love stories ever
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2010, RUNNER UP – All About Eve (1950) – Deserves to be here for its sharp crackling wit alone
BEST NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY FILM SEEN IN 2010 – Vertigo (1958) – Hitchcock’s best film.  Enough said.
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2010, RUNNER UP – The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) – Fascinating, tragic portrait of Joan of Arc’s trial
BEST NON-NFR VINTAGE FILM SEEN IN 2010 – Random Harvest (1942) – A hackneyed premise (amnesia) is made into a wonderful romantic tearjerker
BEST UNRELEASED FILM, RUNNER UP – SUPER – This darrrk comedy is the best of the regular-guy-tries-to-be-a-superhero trend
BEST UNRELEASED FILM – Tabloid – Why hasn’t Errol Morris’ documentary about a truly bizarre kidnapping case been released yet?
MOST OVERLOOKED 2010 FILM, RUNNER UP – Ondine – Lyrical modern fairytale about a fisherman and a woman who may be a mythical selkie
MOST OVERLOOKED 2010 FILM – Agora – Rachel Weisz is amazing in this lavish biopic about Hypatia and the Great Library of Alexandria
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2010 FILM, RUNNER UP – Hereafter – Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon can’t enliven this limp trilogy of afterlife tales
MOST DISAPPOINTING 2010 FILM – Never Let Me Go – This minimal sci-fi tale never gets off the ground, and ends up a wishy-washy mess
WORST 2010 FILM, RUNNER UP – Film Socialism – It is sad to see the once great Jean-Luc Godard deface his filmography with trash like this
WORST 2010 FILM – Skyline – The horror! The horror!  Show any invading aliens this film, and they’d commit suicide on the spot!
BEST 2010 MOVIE TRAILER, RUNNER UP – The Social Network – The angelic chorus, the random statuses, and the sharp dialogue combine perfectly
BEST 2010 MOVIE TRAILER – Inception – Introduces the film’s iconic score (BRRRAAAAAAMMMMMP!) and a tasty glimpse of the movie’s twists
BEST 2010 HORROR FILM, RUNNER UP – Daybreakers – What happens AFTER the vampire apocalypse?  Wonder no more…
BEST 2010 HORROR FILM – Let Me In – A remake that is as good as the celebrated original
BEST 2010 COMEDY, RUNNER UP – Hot Tub Time Machine – Never quite reaches its potential, but this goofy film has plenty of laughs
BEST 2010 COMEDY – The Other Guys – This buddy cop parody gets the humorous tone just right as it tweaks all sorts of action film cliches
BEST 2010 ANIMATED FILM, RUNNER UP – Tangled – The best non-Pixar Disney film in nearly twenty years
BEST 2010 ANIMATED FILM – The Illusionist – A nearly dialogue-free touchingly beautiful gem from France
BEST 2010 FOREIGN FILM, RUNNER UP – Micmacs – Quirky and delightful fun from Amelie filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  Packed with detail!
BEST 2010 FOREIGN FILM – A Prophet – This epic prison drama has been compared to the Godfather, and for good reason…

BEST 2010 SCENE, RUNNER UP – The Ward vs. Sanchez fight in The Fighter
BEST 2010 SCENE – The shifting gravity hallway sequence in Inception
BEST 2010 SCREENPLAY, RUNNER UP – The Ghost Writer – A solid, taut thriller that feels familiar yet keeps you guessing
BEST 2010 SCREENPLAY – The Social Network – Witty rapid-fire banter galore!
BEST 2010 ACTRESS, RUNNER UP – Natalie Portman, Black Swan – Portman is stunning as a mentally unstable ballerina
BEST 2010 ACTRESS – Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole – An amazing portrait of one woman’s attempts to rise above grief
BEST 2010 ACTOR, RUNNER UP – Robert Duvall, Get Low – I’m not usually a Duvall fan, but he truly delivers the goods here
BEST 2010 ACTOR – James Franco, 127 Hours – Alone for the bulk of the film, he completely captivates your attention.  Wow!
BEST 2010 FILM, RUNNER UP – The King’s Speech – A wonderful ensemble cast in a classically entertaining story that never takes a misstep
BEST 2010 FILM – 127 Hours – Don’t let fear of “the scene” keep you away from this amazingly powerful film.  The year’s best.

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Best Films of the Decade

I’ve seen 1857 films over the past 10 years….time to count down my top 100 of the 00s….
#100 – In the Loop – Caustically funny and scathing look at the politics of selling a war. A perfect film to sum up the 00s. (7/24/09)
#99 – 28 Days Later – The fast zombie hits the mainstream in this exciting thriller. Yeah yeah, they weren’t REALLY zombies. (6/28/03)
#98 – Volver – Penelope Cruz is outstanding in this ghost story/thriller/comedy by renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. (9/9/06)
#97 – The New World – Terrence Malick’s hauntingly gorgeous film about the raw beauty of early America, and our fall from grace. (1/21/06)
#96 – Wonder Boys – Downey Jr. & Maguire foreshadow their strong decade , but Michael Douglas is superb in his best role ever. (2/24/00)
#95 – Night Watch – Those darn Russians one-up us in the Vampire genre in the film with perhaps the best designed subtitles ever! (2/18/06)
#94 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Ang Lee brings wuxia to the masses in his beautiful martial arts epic. (12/6/00)
#93 – Tropic Thunder – The one with the dude playin’ a dude, disguised as another dude. (8/14/08)
#92 – Serenity – You need to see Firefly to truly appreciate the best space opera of the decade, but what are you waiting for? (9/30/05)
#91 – Casino Royale – James Bond is back, and, well, better than he’s been since the days of Sean Connery. (11/17/06)
#90 – Millions – Two British kids find a suitcase of money in this delightful film showing the range of director Danny Boyle. (9/16/04)
#89 – An Education – Carey Mulligan is a modern-day Audrey Hepburn in this wonderful British coming-of-age drama. (9/10/09)
#88 – Iron Man – Downey Jr. proves a superhero doesn’t have to be all Broody McBroodersons to make a fun, exciting action film. (5/3/08)
#87 – The Devil Wears Prada – Who’d have thought that an Anne Hathaway vehicle based on a trashy novel could be so entertaining? (6/30/06)
#86 – Star Trek – This great reboot will fuel the fire of Hollywood’s remake craze, but if they’re as good as this, who cares. (5/10/09)
#85 – Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle’s third film on my list so far is a vibrant slice of Bollywood, fun and full of life. (9/10/08)
#84 – Stranger Than Fiction – Will Ferrell’s best movie is the one where he plays the least Will Ferrell-ish character. (11/11/06)
#83 – The Aviator – Scorsese, DiCaprio, & Blanchett are all great here. But the true star is the era-appropriate cinematography! (12/18/04)
#82 – Shaun of the Dead – Not only the best of the decade’s many zombie comedies, but one of the best zombie movies overall. (9/25/04).
#81 – Borat – Sacha Baron Cohen’s improv mockumentary feels like a great, hilarious Andy Kaufman bit. (11/3/06)
#80 – I Heart Huckabees – No, not an endorsement for the GOP candidate…but one of the funniest existential comedies around! (9/11/04)
#79 – A.I.: Artificial Intelligence – Often overlooked due to the slight misfire of an ending, this is some very good sci fi. (6/30/01)
#78 – District 9 – Just when the summer action flicks seemed doomed to be brainless forever, along came this breath of fresh air. (8/15/09)
#77 – Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban – The best of the Harry Potter films brought some needed originality to the series. (6/6/04)
#76 – Shattered Glass – Proof that Hayden Christensen CAN act, plus a great supporting cast, and an insightful look at the media. (9/10/03)
#75 – The Savages – A darkly comic look at family dysfunction. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are just perfect. (9/12/07)
#74 – The Queen – Excellent performances are what make this familiar story fascinating. Helen Mirren is simply amazing.(10/20/06)
#73 – Donnie Darko – It takes a few viewings of this sci-fi mindtrip to grasp all the subtleties, but it’s well worth the effort (10/26/01)
#72 – The Illusionist – The first and best of 2006’s period magician movies has a fascinatingly twisty story. (7/28/06)
#71 – Howl’s Moving Castle – Often thought as a lesser Miyazaki work, this animated fantasy is full of life and simply gorgeous. (6/10/05)
#70 – Bright Star – The most romantic movie of 2009 is this biopic of poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne. (9/11/09)
#69 – Hedwig and the Angry Inch – A fun and inventive glam rock musical about finding your other half. (8/31/01)
#68 – Up – Deserves the spot on this list for the moving marriage montage alone. (5/30/09)
#67 – Return of the King – The most satisfying movie trilogy of all time comes to a conclusion without dropping in quality. (12/17/03)
#66 – Hotel Rwanda – Brutal and devastating, this portrait of the genocide in Rwanda is a powerful, powerful film. (9/13/04)
#65 – The Triplets of Belleville – One of the most inventive animated films of the decade delights, even with almost no dialogue. (11/26/03)
#64 – Dear Zachary – One of the most emotionally powerful films of the past ten years is this little seen documentary about loss. (12/7/08)
#63 – High Fidelity – A very successful adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel that manages to exceed its already good source material. (3/28/00)
#62 – The Departed – Scorsese’s best work in ten years is this taut crime thriller that pulls no punches. (10/7/06)
#61 – The Dark Knight – Ledger took the glory, but the true star here is Nolan, whose brilliant direction revived the franshise. (7/19/08)
#60 – The Host – This inventive take on the giant monster movie deftly slips genres, but always in a highly entertaining way. (9/8/06)
#59 – Little Children – The raw sexual tension between Winslet and Wilson is mesmerizing in this fascinating study of suburbia. (9/13/06)
#58 – Sweeney Todd – A Johnny Depp musical could have been a complete trainwreck, but instead is a darkly funny & bloody delight! (12/21/07)
#57 – The Magic Flute – Kenneth Branagh’s magical musical adaptation of Mozart’s opera. Tragically unreleased in North America. (9/15/06)
#56 – Juno – Twee, sure. Full of Diablo Codyisms, yep. But overlooked among the comedy are several stellar performances. (9/8/07)
#55 – Bowling for Columbine – Michael Moore’s best documentary (sorry Fahrenheit 9/11) is humorous, informative and surprising. (9/8/02)
#54 – Million Dollar Baby – Clint Eastwood’s best directorial outing dared to deviate from the clichéd sports movie formula. (12/15/04)
#53 – Little Miss Sunshine – The best little family road trip since National Lampoon’s Vacation! (7/28/06)
#52 – Everything is Illuminated – This mesmerizing film combines moving drama and high farce; plus the Gogol Bordello is divine! (9/14/05)
#51 – Bend it Like Beckham – A really fun film that is part sports comedy, part clash-of-cultures drama. (9/12/02)
#50 – Spirited Away – Miyazaki’s amazingly beautiful masterpiece was the best traditionally animated film of the decade. (9/9/02)
#49 – (500) Days of Summer – This quirky not-quite-a-romantic-comedy takes chances and succeeds with its non-linear storyline. (3/29/09)
#48 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – A gorgeous story is enhanced by stellar aging and de-aging special effects. (12/26/08)
#47 – Punch-Drunk Love – Paul Thomas Anderson shows his deft touch with this unusual romantic comedy. Sandler’s best by a mile. (9/14/02)
#46 – Away From Her – Julie Christie’s performance is simply devastating in this tale of Alzheimer’s unforeseen effects. (9/12/06)
#45 – Ratatouille – Pixar can do anything: they make a rat in a kitchen seem not only appetizing, but desirable! (6/29/07)
#44 – Gone Baby Gone – Perhaps Ben Affleck should spend his time directing if the results would be as engrossing as this mystery. (10/19/07)
#43 – Munich – Spielberg’s best since Saving Private Ryan is this thoughtful examination of the implications of revenge. (12/23/05)
#42 – Let the Right One In – This creepy, yet moving, child vampire romance one-ups the Twilight saga in every way. (11/1/08)
#41 – Before Sunset – The perfect sequel to Richard Linklater’s romance, Before Sunrise. It’s like catching up with old friends. (7/2/04)
#40 – The Road – As bleak as the book, but Viggo’s performance keeps the fire alive in this powerful tale of the postapocalypse. (9/13/09)
#39 – Flame & Citron – A film about resistance fighters in WWII, full of double-crosses and great Tarantino-esque action pieces. (9/06/08)
#38 – Avatar – The best of the 3-D movie renaissance over the past decade. In terms of sheer spectacle, it’s hard to top. (12/18/09)
#37 – The 40-Year-Old Virgin – None of the tidal wave of Apatow-produced comedies that followed has matched this one’s heart. (8/20/05)
#36 – About a Boy – A wonderful film about friendship, growing up, and connecting with people. A perfect role for Hugh Grant. (5/17/02)
#35 – No Country for Old Men – The Coen bros. go bleak and violent, to spectacular effect. Bardem is simply amazing, friend-o. (9/10/07)
#34 – A Single Man – In this exceedingly stylish and heartbreaking film, Colin Firth gives the performance of his career. (9/14/09)
#33 – Zodiac – A visually striking police procedural disguised as a serial killer flick, but easily the best since LA Confidential. (3/2/07)
#32 – The King of Kong – The best documentary of the decade may be about arcade games, but it’s packed full of fun thrills. (1/29/08)
#31 – Best in Show – Christopher Guest is King of the Mockumentary, and this hilarious one about dog shows is easily his best. (9/27/00)
#30 – Oldboy – A tragic South Korean masterpiece. The hallway hammer fight is one of the best action sequences of all time. (3/26/05)
#29 – Thank You For Smoking – Jason Reitman’s caustic satire is enormously funny, and a perfect debut for the talented director. (9/11/05)
#28 – The Brothers Bloom – This quirky and imaginative con artist comedy from writer-director Rian Johnson is delightfully funny. (9/11/08)
#27 – Brick – Rian Johnson’s FIRST film was even better, a high-school-set film noir with rapid-fire sharp dialogue. (5/6/06)
#26 – Once – A musical stripped down to its basics. Raw emotion and great music can make a simple film simply beautiful. (5/16/07)
#25 – Billy Elliot – An incredibly moving film about following one’s passions, no matter what others think. (10/13/00)
#24 – Atonement – A heartbreaking drama about love, misunderstandings, and the inability to make amends. Great debut by Ronan. (9/10/07)
#23 – Spider-Man 2 – A perfect superhero film, that manages to improve on the first with the addition of a non-ridiculous villain. (6/30/04)
#22 – Requiem for a Dream – Bleak, bleak, bleak…but oh, so beautiful.  Hard to watch, but you never forget it once you do.  (11/24/00)
#21 – Chicago – Stylish and filled with energy, this musical is full of good acting, sharp dialogue, and great music. (12/28/02)
#20 – The Incredibles – Brad Bird delivers this fantastic superhero riff, where the family dynamic is as good as the action. (11/5/04)
#19 – Kill Bill, Volume One – Tarantino’s action-packed, genre-bending tribute to 70s cinema is his best since Pulp Fiction. (10/10/03)
#18 – Pan’s Labyrinth – Part magical fairy-tale, part retreat from the horror of war, it’s amazing no matter how you look at it. (9/13/06)
#17 – Fellowship of the Ring – Epic, gorgeous, fun, and above all faithful, this entry proved Peter Jackson had the magic touch.  (12/19/01)
#16 – Moulin Rouge – Luhrmann’s brilliant take on the musical is full of more energy and life than anything seen before or since. (6/1/01)
#15 – O Brother, Where Art Thou? – The Coens deliciously adapt Homer’s Odyssey as a madcap 1930s Southern comedy, and it works! (12/22/00)
#14 – WALL-E – Who would have thought a Disney cartoon could present such a dystopian future? And a smart one, too. Thanks, Pixar! (6/28/08)
#13 – The Hurt Locker – Not just a great war movie, but one of the best collections of edge-of-your-seat thrill sequences around. (9/8/08)
#12 – The Sea Inside – Javier Bardem gives a searing and unforgettable performance in this Spanish film about the right to die. (9/15/04)
#11 – Finding Nemo – Pixar’s best uses a tired buddy-comedy-road-trip formula that shouldn’t work…but it does and it’s magical. (5/30/03)
#10 – Up in the Air – Reitman’s examination of the transitions in life and the importance of connections is perfect for our time. (9/12/09)
#9 – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – An overlooked, underappreciated gem. Perhaps the funniest action comedy in at least twenty years. (9/8/05)
#8 – In America – A moving portrait of modern-day Irish immigrants in New York. One of the best unabashed tearjerkers around. (9/14/02)
#7 – 25th Hour – Spike Lee’s best film since the 80s…and maybe ever.  An ode to post-9/11 NY, and the tragic loss of potential. (12/19/02)
#6 – Memento – More than just a gimmick, Christopher Nolan’s fun puzzle of a film is suspenseful even when you know what happens. (3/17/01)
#5 – There Will Be Blood – Daniel Day Lewis’s portrait of obsession is a masterful performance in a masterpiece of a film. (12/26/07)
#4 – Brokeback Mountain – More than just the “gay cowboy” movie, this is a heartrending romance and a tragic tale of repression.  (9/12/05)
#3 – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – A beautifully mindbending romantic piece of SF about memory, precious and painful. (3/19/04)
#2 – Children of Men – A haunting near-future drama about hope in a society on the brink of collapse. And, oh, that camerawork! (12/27/06)
#1 – Amelie – This whimsical tale of a shy do-gooder who yearns for love is packed with delightful characters and rich details. (11/17/01) 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Status of the site

Hmmm…I’m trying to decide what to do with the site. I’m thinking of retooling it for just reviews. Not only is the coming attractions section woefully out of date, but other sites out there are now covering the scene much better than I ever did…

Anyhoo…two reviews (by our celebrity guest reviewer) have been posted for your perusal…

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Human Nature - * * * 1/2*

First a warning to all women: Shave before you see this movie. You’ll be glad you did.

“Human Nature” the movie is, not unlike human nature in life, sweet and cruel, kind and heartbreaking. The intellectual younger sibling of “Being John Malkovich” (same writer, Charlie Kaufman, and Spike Jonze who directed BJM is producer this time around) “Human Nature” digs a wider circle. Instead of sliding through the inner-workings of the lone Malkovich, “Human Nature” probes into our workings as individuals inside of society.

Our three main characters are Lila Jute (Patricia Arquette), Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins) and Puff (Rhys Ifans). Lila is a sensitive woman who finds isolation in a physical abnormality, then comfort in an isolated life of writing in the woods. Loneliness drives her back to the city and into the life of Nathan. Nathan has dedicated his life to the finer points of social polish such as table manners, specifically teaching them to lab rats. When he and Lila go for a hike in the woods they run into the half-human half-ape Puff swinging naked through the trees. Nathan becomes convinced that Puff is the perfect pure subject for high-level experimentation with electro-shock induced manners. Lila has her doubts but they fall to the wayside while she tries harder and harder to become a perfect woman (an eerie parallel – Puff being trained through wires and harnesses, Lila going through an equally cruel self-inflicted metamorphosis) and keep the love of Nathan.

The movie is told in the form of flashbacks with elements of documentary, purgatory and criminal investigation rolled in. “Human Nature” is frighteningly clever and concise with biting dialogue that never seems to fail to see under the veneer of “good manners” and “proper behavior” and yet stops short of drawing the conclusion that a return to nature is either practical or entirely desirable. In short, this movie will make you think. Not just think, it’ll come right out and make fun of you. Walk into the theatre expecting to squirm over your choices regardless of the degree to which you have embraced or rejected society and all of its little trade-offs.

It might even make you rethink whether you really ought to, or want to shave after all.

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Ice Age - * * *

“Ice Age” is a very enjoyable trip into the way distant past – never mind that the exact date we’re landing upon is somewhat ambiguous. You will immediately find yourself sucked into Pixar’s icy world by a hyper-active squirrel trying to save one last acorn. He runs, slides, digs and generally bounces through the winter landscape running into troubles at every turn in a way that reminds one of Wyle E. Coyote, except well—faster. But that’s just the warm up (don’t worry he comes back to us throughout the movie in bits of flawlessly timed comic relief), the main event is watching a wooly mammoth named Manfred (voiced by Ray Romano from tv’s “Everybody Loves Raymond”), a sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo from “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” and “Moulin Rouge!”) and a sabertoothed tiger named Diego (Denis Leary from “The Ref” and tv’s “The Job”) team up to transport a human baby back home.

The friendship, the journey and all that begin when Sid wakes up late for the big migration. His family has left him behind. We start to understand their “oversight” as we watch him get into one scrape after another prompting even the vegetarians towards blood lust. Manfred comes along and begrudgingly pulls him out of a mess or two and after that he can’t shake Sid despite the fact that he is heading North into the ice rather than South with all the other animals. When Manfred and Sid happen upon a dying mother trying to save her infant, they take up the plight of getting the baby home. The task is complicated when they discover that the family has picked up and migrated since the baby was lost. “Assisting” them is Diego who leads the unlikely crew on their pursuit of the humans, all the while plotting to get the baby away for his own dark purposes.

In the end, if you remember not to let little things (like the somewhat silly take on what makes a herd or the fact that the animals don’t much less eat one another on their big journey) bother you, you won’t regret it. These discrepancies don’t detract from the visually pleasing style, the humor or the engaging qualities of “Ice Age”. Focus your attention on the expressions on Manfred’s face (he has an especially expressive trunk), the “grab you by the throat and shake the laughs out” physical comedy and the delightfully written dialogue. Pay your attention to these elements and the bombastic squirrel (truly, you’re going to love this squirrel) and you’re sure to walk out with a smile on your face no matter how old you are.

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