Friday, January 14, 2011

Top 10 Most Anticip...ated Movies of 2011

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Right off the bat I'm sorry for the Rocky Horror joke but it's the first thing that comes to mind whenever I hear the word anticipated. Anyway with a new year comes new movies and I've got to be excited about a few of them right? I mean marketing for most of these films starts 6 months in advance so come January we are chomping at the bit to get our hands on these movies. But some people are more excited for some films than others which makes reading these anticipated lists quite a treat. Well I'm hear to throw in my two cents so let's get started.

10. The Tree of Life-
 Usually if a movie poster or trailer doesn't grab me then I usually skip or go into said movie with low expectations. The Tree of Life didn't grab me. The trailer, while with it's moments of awe inspiring visuals, looks more like a walking Hallmark card or home videos from the 50s than an actual movie and the poster is a little too on the nose for me. But before you start flinging the hate let me say that I blame the marketing department and not the film itself. You see Castor at Anomalous Materials did a Script Review of The Tree of Life a while back and that made me more interested in the film than anything the marketing department has done so far. I am a huge Mallick fan so I do have high hopes and I don't doubt that this will be the favorite film of many people next year. We'll just have to wait and see.

9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret-
 If you haven't guessed already this is not the poster for the movie but the cover of the novel the film is an adaptation of. This is because little to no information about the movie besides the cast list, the main synopsis and who the writer and director are has been released. But these few things have been enough to get me excited. First it's directed by Martin Scorsese, my second favorite director, and written by John Logan, my fourth favorite screenwriter. On top of that it stars the kid from The Boy with the Striped Pajamas, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer and Sacha Baron Cohen. And it's in 3D, a first for Scorsese. If these sentences (well maybe except 3D) don't get you excited then I don't know what will.

8. Scream 4-
 I love the Scream franchise and consider it one of the better acts of satire in recent memory. The whole series is basically Wes Craven satirizing the horror genre, reducing it down to rules and regulations and patterns that the characters, the killer included must follow, but doing so without the laughs. Yes there are jokes, since there must always be the "comic relief" character, but most of the time it's a film that takes itself seriously without being serious. And yes I did love Scream 3. It had the most problems out of the three and got a little caught up in it's own story but it accomplished the point it was trying to make about the third film in a horror series and overall was pretty good. And while the initial reaction to Scream 4 was that of "Really?" I soon realized that it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Nearly every horror franchise is getting a reboot or sequel nowadays and the rules have changed since then because now there are the rules of a "reboot/remake." So in a lot of ways Scream 4 is perfect.I have high hopes for it and hopefully it won't disappoint.

7. Drive Angry Shot in 3D-
 It is near impossible not to say the title with some sort of Grindhouse style inflection. It's such an intense title and is one that should be said with power. Add in "All Hell Breaks Loose" and you got the makings of an action packed movie. On top of that you have an incredibly badass poster, an even more badass trailer and while everything about this movie should scream horrible (look at who is writing and directing it), Nic Cage being over the top Nic Cage blasting people with comically large guns and driving epic muscle cars makes this film awesome. I mean it won't win any Academy Awards by any means but I bet this will be one of the most fun theater experiences I have this year. Thank God for Nic Cage doing just about anything for a paycheck.

6. Piranha 3DD-
 Now with an extra D! In all seriousness though Piranha 3D was one of my favorite films last year, successfully mixing tongue in cheek laugh out loud humor, Grade B schlock, and the most gore I've ever seen in a film. When it was over I was actually kind of sad because they now had Mega Piranhas as well as the tiny little guys. That and I never get tired of Christopher Lloyd's ramblings. Then I heard they were doing a sequel and I was more excited then I probably should have been. That excitement was worthy though because they said they were going to put more blood and gore then the first one, more Piranha's, more Mega Piranha's and it was going to be called Piranha 3DD which in and of itself is an awesome title to say out loud. It's guilty pleasure at it's best and I couldn't be more happy.

5. Thor-
 Marvel is releasing two big superhero films in 2011 and both of them look amazing. DC on the other hand is releasing one big one, Green Lantern, and that only looks okay. The first big Marvel release though is none other than the Norse God of thunder himself, Thor. Kenneth Branagh, who most of you would probably recognize from any Shakespearian film released in the past 30 years, is directing the film while JMS, a favorite comic book author of mine, is writing it. The fact it's written by a comic book writer already gives me some solace that this film will be great. JMS worked on the Thor comics for a number of years and understands the mythos of Thor quite well. Branagh on the other hand, knows how to make characters who inherently sound melodramatic sound badass. That is crucial as most adaptations of Norse mythology, or at least a branch of it,  kind of have their characters sounding melodramatic. Add in Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins starring in the movie and you have the makings of a pretty well rounded and awesome film. I mean the trailers sure do look awesome.

4. Captain America-
 Marvel's other big release happens to be the original Avenger himself, Captain America. Now while I'm a bit hesitant to get overly excited, mostly since Joe Johnston, who directed The Wolfman last year, is directing this film. But then you tell me the writers of The Chronicles of Narnia Movies, David Self and Joss Whedon are all collaborating together to write the script and I'm a little more excited. Then you tell me Chris Evans is Captain America and Hugo Weaving is the villain. Excitement rising even more. Then you tell me Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and Neal McDonough are all in it as well as Cap's sidekick Bucky Barnes, whom I love, and you pretty much have me jumping up and down waiting for this film to come out. It has to be just has to.

3. Battle: Los Angeles-
 I went into more detail on why this film looks good in my recent edition of Trailer Talk Thursday over at the LAMB but basically the fact that most of this film is being kept quiet except for fact that aliens invade and Earth is fighting back is actually helping the film rather than hurting it. If you show your hand too early, people won't want to see more, something that the marketing team at Columbia understand really well. But I love alien invasion movies and I feel this one will be a truly epic, mostly because I'm not sure if the human race is going to pull through okay or not. Almost every film has the aliens being defeated and humanity being okay. This one, not so much...we'll just have to wait and see.

2. Cowboys and Aliens-
 I love titles that get right to the point. This film has cowboys and it has aliens. It has James Bond and Han Solo fighting aliens. It also has Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano rounding out the supporting cast. It has tons of action, it's based on an amazing graphic novel, is directed by Jon Favreau, produced by everybody (Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Steven Spielberg and more), written by one of the guys who did Lost and has epic special effects. I had the opportunity to read the script a while back and the film, in word form at least, sounds awesome. And from what I've seen the moving picture version looks awesome as well. I realize a lot of people seem to hate Daniel Craig, but I say put your hate aside because this film will be amazing.

1. Sucker Punch-
You want to know a secret? When I was writing out my list I put this at number 1 from the start and just worked my way backwards. Ever since Comic-Con last year I have been anxiously awaiting this movie. No other film has come close to my excitement levels that I have for Sucker Punch. First, it's directed by Zack Snyder, who is my favorite living director and whose entire filmography is in my top 25 films of all time, with two in my top 10. Second, it has some of the best visual effects I have ever seen in a film, none of which, for a change, will be in 3D. Third, it has a ton of hot woman kicking ass and blowing things up. Fourth, Jon Hamm is the villain and Scott Glenn is a wiseman, which is amazing casting if I've ever seen it. And finally, it's Zack Snyder's FIRST ORIGINAL MOVIE, with all of his other films being adaptations or remakes of something else. Robots, samurai's, dragons, Nazi's, aliens, and all sorts of awesome bad guys to blow up, all in slow-fast-slow motion is truly a sight I can't wait to see. This movie will be amazing and if it lives up to the expectations I have for it, Shaun of the Dead may be moved to number 2 on my favorite films of all time.

Well that does it for my most anticipated movies of 2011, stay tuned for my best Male/Female performances of 2010, best trailers/soundtracks of 2010 and some recent film reviews all coming up shortly.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 10 Posters of 2010

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well for once I'm not doing a two for one Top 10 list. Why? Because I want to stretch this out at least to the end of the week. That and I feel posters, trailers, soundtracks and most anticipated films all deserve their own spotlight. But fear not double feature lovers, for I will be combining my best actor/actress lists together, since I figure that that would be appropriate.

Anywhoo...this post is dedicated to the thing most people notice about a film right off the bat: it's poster. Whether officially done by trained professionals or unofficially by fans with the blessing of the studio, posters are a large part of selling a movie to the masses. Trailers are great and the large media junkets all films go on are great too, but when I walk into a theater one of the first things I notice are the posters hanging on the wall or sitting on a stand. Good posters catch your eyes and great posters make you interested in the film, maybe even if you had no intention of seeing it by name or stars alone. So I say we honor the great posters of 2010 and give credit where credit is due.

10. The Human Centipede-
Arguably one of the most disturbing movies in recent history, The Human Centipede also had an equally disturbing poster. The bloody handprint, the screaming man, and the grimy door paint a portrait of the film that stuck with you. It became abundantly clear that this was a bleak and twisted film with an extremely creepy tagline: "Their Flesh Is His Fantasy."  Whether you love, hate or refuse to watch the movie, one of the things that sticks with you is this poster.

9. Piranha 3D-
Yes it is a Jaws rip-off but it's also a damn good poster. The piranhas all look menacing as they rush toward the viewer and the grindhouse style type print only adds an air of camp to the film. The water gets increasingly murkier as it reaches the bottom of the poster giving the illusion that all is bright and happy on the surface, but underneath is dark and menacing. My favorite thing though is the half drawn piranhas in the way back and in the bright spots because it gives the illusion that there are thousands of these guys. An awesome poster for an awesome movie.

8. Get Him to the Greek-
Many people love the American version of the poster, with Russell Brand giving the horns to the viewer whilst leaning over a confused and bewildered Jonah Hill, but I much prefer this International poster because it gives you more of an idea of how different these two characters are. Hill is standing there, messy suit, unshaven and looking disheveled while Russell is still in party mode swinging on a chandelier above half naked women. A great portrayal of a great movie.

7. Predators-
This fan made poster for the latest Predator film caught me the first time I saw it. While it doesn't show off the badassery of the Predator like the other posters do, I feel this poster gives the viewer a better idea of what kind of alien the Predator is. The human prey are obviously on guard, anxious for one of those creatures to pop out but little do they know that they are being watched by what they are trying to destroy. The infrared vision is awesome and it gives the Predator a sense of mystique. When will it attack? See the movie to find out.

 6. The Next Three Days-
The collage on the board that plays a pivotal part in the movie is a great backdrop for the poster. The collage, along with the map and the doodles showed how focused and concentrated Russell Crowe's character was on getting his wife out of jail. You could say he lost himself in his work. That plays out pretty well for the poster since that's basically the tagline and the collage coming together to make Russell Crowe's face only accentuates that idea. It's a great poster and a very original design.

5. Rabbit Hole- 
Rabbit Hole has yet to be released where I live but that doesn't take away from the fact that this poster is awesome. It's very classy and each section shows off a very different emotion as it goes from completely wrecked to happy (or happy to wrecked). It helps that Nicole Kidman has a very expressive face that can do all these different, subtle emotional changes. And Eckhart over on the right even has his own bit of a change as they both meet in the middle as a happy couple. Very well made poster.

4. Inception-
The Inception posters were all basically throw a dart and you'll end up on an amazing one. Some like the jagged edged one, some like the main theatrical poster with them all standing while the road comes up but for me this tsunami wave made up of the city coming down on them while they stand on a building is the best. It really shows the scope of what they are dealing with and the challenge that lies ahead for them. The sun/light source really adds a nice "light at the end of the tunnel" feeling to it as well.

3. Black Swan-
The first and most famous poster for Black Swan didn't really grab me to be honest with you. Natalie Portman in extremely heavy make-up staring through you didn't really tell me anything except it has Natalie Portman and it's about Swan Lake. But then a bunch of new posters came out, more abstract then the previous ones but they gave a better example of what the film really was. This one in particular has the literal Black Swan but inside is a demon-esque Portman doing typical ballet moves, which represent the feathers. It's a dark and foreboding poster and one I have proudly displayed at my house.

2. Buried
As a giant Hitchcock nerd this poster stuck with me, feeling very reminiscent of his older work with films like Vertigo. The spiral grabs you instantly and pulls you into the middle, the smallest part, where Reynolds lies. At first it's hard to make out he's even there but as you get closer he becomes more recognizable and it really gives you a feeling of how confined and trapped inside a small place he really is. It's simple, yet elegant and one that everyone seemed to love.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs the World
While not an official poster for the movie, this unofficial poster for Scott Pilgrim vs the World received Edgar Wright's blessing and was soon seen at select screenings. It jumped at me immediately, telling me everything I needed to know about the film in the most stylized way possible. It shows the exes, it shows Ramona, it shows Pilgrim fighting and through it all is a theme of hearts and breaking. It feels very graffiti/street art in style and the expressions on all the characters faces sell the poster, along with the bright, but retrotastic colors. An amazing poster for an amazing movie.

Well that does it for Best Posters. What were some of your favorites? What about my choices? Stay tuned for my most anticipated, my favorite trailers, soundtracks and performances in my Best of 2010 special.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Worst/Most Disappointing Movies of 2010

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Now I have about 6 more lists geared up for my "Best of 2010" special but I figure since I already announced what I thought were the best movies, my next two lists would be dedicated to the worst and most disappointing movies of 2010. What is the difference this time around? Well Worst Movie is pretty self-explanitory. It's the worst of the worst, the films that were physically, emotionally or mentally painful to sit through. Films that have (or at least the top 3) scarred me for life in some extent. Most Disappointing however means movies that may not have been all that bad (in some cases they were though) but whether it's because of the cast/director/writers or the hype and marketing surrounding it, I expected more and left the theater less then enthusiastic. First up is the crap of the crop my...



10. Vampires Suck-
 The Twilight series is an easy target. It's melodramatic, has actors with the emotional range of drywall, has horrid special effects and can be quite boring from start to finish. Now while I personally believe the franchise has gotten better, it's entered that special "It was good...for a (blank) film" category which means compared to most normal movies, it's still terrible. So how could Friedberg/Seltzer of the "Disaster/Date/Epic Movie" series screw it up so bad. I mean their other films were terrible, but that was when they were trying to write jokes that appealed to today's popular culture. Here you had three movies with jokes that write themselves. Instead what we got was a humorless, boring film that still tried too hard to stuff current pop culture into their films. Uwe Boll could have made a better movie and honestly he's leaps and bounds better then these guys. Congrats Friedberg/Seltzer, you earned your spot.

9. The Spy Next Door-
 Why is it that China gets all the good Jackie Chan movies lately? I realize that's where most of his fans are but as a lifelong fan of his it's sad to see his American films suck in comparison to his Chinese films. Anyone who has seen Little Big Soldier or the Shinjuku Incident (I love Chinese cinema) would know he is still amazing over there as a leading man. The only films we get over here are a decent remake of an 80s classic and this abysmal film: The Spy Next Door. I will say it's not entirely Jackie's fault though as he tries his hardest to make the movie good. But throw in an annoying George Lopez, Billy Ray Cyrus and bratty kids and any effort that Jackie does seems moot. Well hopefully we see more of his Chinese releases over here in the states but until then...this is what we got.

8. Takers-
 Usually if a movie gets continually pushed back, my hopes get dashed out the window. There are rare exceptions (see Shutter Island) but usually the signs aren't good. They are even worse when two of your stars are disgraced rappers and the rest of your stars are C maybe B list stars. But I was willing to give this film a shot. I mean looks aren't everything. But then I watched this film and for the first twenty or so minutes it wasn't bad. It was the typical cat and mouse multiple heist movie. But when the middle of the movie kicked in, specifically the "big heist" the film is leading up to, the movie nose dives into stupidity. First T.I. feels the need to be the hype man during the heist basically doing his best Flavor Flav impression. Then you add in multiple sacrifice scenes which prove to be completely stupid and logically bare and then an ending that goes "Well we ran out of time" and you got an abysmal film from start to finish.

7. Skyline-
 I knew jack about this movie until it was released. To me it just looked like a low budget film with big budget special effects. And what do you know that's exactly what it was. The film was devoid of any real character development, plot or reason to care about what was going on, it's only saving grace being it's special effects which, compared to the many films it's trying so desperately to be, is weak itself. Oh well...this film will be forgotten by the time Battle: Los Angeles comes out.

6. Furry Vengeance-
 So this is what they showed to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay right? Because it felt like torture sitting through it. Brendan Frasier is a competent actor but him being basically bullied, beaten and forced into submission until he gave into the animals whims was not fun for anyone. A sad, sad film from an increasingly sad, sad actor.

5. Sex and the City 2-
The fact that there are films worse then this is disturbing. Rich, white woman complaining about being rich, white woman while strutting around in a foreign country riddled with racist stereotypes and a former ex (we need a plot somewhere right?) is just not fun to watch. Everything about this movie is dismal. I pray that this is the last time we see these woman or I may just lose the will to live.

4. The Wolfman-
 I'm going to tell you right now that this is not only one of the worst films of the year but my most disappointing film of the year. Why? Because it had so much going for it. Great actors and actresses both young and old, writers who have done lots of great work, a director who has had over 40 years in the business and a horror movie icon that people have been dying to see, or at least I have. In a time where werewolves are 17 year old kids with a 12 pack, it was nice to see a feral, evil werewolf that showed why people once feared these creatures. On top of that it had a great ad campaign, wonderful posters, trailers that were tense and exciting and a studio that was all but pushing this film into the spotlight. But then it came out. People flocked to the cinema in herds and what they got was a hard to see, laughably written, horribly acted (save for Hugo Weaving), tame for an R rating horror film that, when it wasn't put to sleep boring, was bang your head against the seat stupid. It garnered such hate at my screening that half of the audience walked out and one patron threw a trashcan through a window in anger. It left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth and was a film that everyone immediately regretted watching. A sad day for horror/monster movie fans.

3. The Last Airbender-
 When I walked out of the movie theater I felt nothing. Even if the movie was terrible I usually felt something. No, I felt absolutely nothing. I felt like two hours of my life disappeared and were never to be seen again. If that's not a sign of the quality of the film, I honestly don't know what is.

2. Cats and Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore-
 I have young family members and when most of the movies playing are too extreme for them I will take them to a film for younger audiences. Usually they are harmless entertainment, something they will get a kick out of and I might get a chuckle out of. In the case of Cats and Dogs 2...none of us were amused. They were bored, I was bored, the jokes were lame even to kids and afterwards I felt like 30 dollars of my money had just floated away into the hands of the studio that made this. Well congratulations, you made a sequel to a lame movie that was even more lame then the original that nobody, not even the youngest and most malleable kids would enjoy. At least Airbender had decent special effects. This movies effects SUCKED!!

1. Yogi Bear-
This movie was a travesty. Everything about it was abysmal hogwash. Every line made me angrier and angrier to the point where I wanted to go punch the projectionist for forcing me to sit through this. I actually wanted a refund, and I saw this for free. I wanted to get my mind erased so I would never have to think about Yogi Bear again. Smarter then the average bear, he says? Well maybe he should have written this movie because to me it seems like it was written by lobotomized chimps. Dan Akroyd should go throw himself off a bridge for doing this movie. He is a damn good actor who has done some of my all time favorites. But this phoned in (almost literally to me because he sounded garbled at times) performance shows how apparently desperate for cash he is. And refuse to make another album but you will do this movie no sweat. I must have misjudged you. I thought you were a person with character who wanted to not only be a successful musical artist but also a serious actor. Hell I thought your performance in the Social Network was great. But apparently you must be strapped for cash, or completely stupid because this film did nothing but hurt your career. Even the live actors deserve to be thrown in jail, or at least beaten for doing this movie. I left the cinema in such a blind fury that I wanted to go find a stuffed bear and rip it to shreds.

Move over Ghost Ship you have new competition for the movie that messed me up the most. Go ahead Yogi, keep pointing and smiling you smug b*****d. If you want to know how I feel in visual form then watch this: that I got that out of the way (sorry if I got a little angry during that write up) let's move on to my

Most Disappointing Movies of 2010...


10. Clash of the Titans-
 Now don't get me wrong, Clash of the Titans is not a horrible movie. In fact it seems I am one of the few who actually enjoyed it. That being said however the film was still disappointing for two reasons: one, the Krakken was severely underused to the point where it was almost a blink and you miss it cameo and two, it took itself way too seriously. It was based on one of the all time camp classics and you'd think with that knowledge that they would make the movie purposefully campy, or at least not the seriousness doom and gloom movie we end up getting. Nameless characters die left and right, Worthington garbles most of his lines through his teeth and there are some pretty dark moments in this film. I'm not saying I wanted a comedy by any means but if this movie would have taken itself less seriously, so would have the audience and it may have been better. If your audience is afraid to laugh at your joke lines, it's too serious. They ARE making a sequel and hopefully with that, they will improve on most of their faults.

9. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time-
 Maybe I shouldn't be surprised it's on my list. But what does surprise me is how excited I was for this movie. The previews made it out to be the savior of the long line of crappy video game movie releases we seem to have been inundated with (Doom being the only enjoyable one). Hell I was willing to give Jake the benefit of the doubt since he is a genuinely talented actor. But alas what we got was a well acted but jumbled mess with odd comic relief, a laughable love story, a one trick pony visual effect and the most obvious villain in film history. Not bad, but certainly not memorable.

8. The Last Airbender-
 Not only is this movie horrible (see above) but it's also a major disappointment. Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the most memorable cartoons in recent history. It has a rich and well developed story full of great characters, exciting battles and thought provoking moral issues. Some people figured just putting the cartoon on the screen would have been good enough. But M. Night Shyamalan wanted to make it live action. I was hesitant at first but he said he was a huge fan of the show so what's the worst that could happen? Make all of the characters Caucasian or Indian, condense a whole season into two hours, throw away any character development, put inexperienced actors behind the camera with little to no emotional range and horrible writing. Yeah...that's the worst that could happen. But the reason it's higher on my list and not down towards the bottom is in the back of my mind, after seeing the cast and knowing what M. Night was capable of, I almost knew I was in for a disaster. If I hadn't had that knowledge beforehand, it may have been number 2.

7. Due Date-
 Robert Downey Jr is funny. Zach Galifianakis is funny. Todd Phillips is a good director who makes funny films. So why is this devoid of laughter? Why is it so boring? Why is Ethan Trembley make me want to punch walls. Why did I feel like the movie should have ended after 20 minutes? Why are there so many plotholes, unanswered questions or unnecessary side stories? Why is all the funny jokes in the trailers? I don't know but I asked myself these questions over and over and over and couldn't find an answer. It should have been good...but it just wasn't. Sigh...

6. Tron: Legacy-
 Tron: Legacy isn't a bad movie. In fact if you read my review of it, you would know that I liked it. But that's just the thing...I LIKED it. The original Tron is one of my all time favorites and despite it's dated graphics and cheesy story it is an amazing film. And when I heard they were making a sequel, 20 odd something years later, with our current and best visual effects technology, and they were bringing back Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner and Daft Punk was scoring the whole thing I damn near wet myself. It seemed like something that would be mind blowingly awesome and the trailers and the hype leading up to it definitely only cemented that notion. I waited with bated breath for the thing to come out and when it did I was first in line. When I left the theater however I uttered this phrase: "It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't great either." That's something no Tron fan wants to say. And for that, this film was a disappointment. The soundtrack though lived up to the hype...if you care.

5. Iron Man 2-
One of the biggest blockbusters of 2008, Iron Man went from a somewhat unknown superhero with an Ozzy Osbourne song to a household name overnight. The film was epic from beginning to end and was the last film I remember my dad actually liking (which is like a miracle in and of itself). And when news of a sequel came I was ecstatic. The trailers were epic, Mickey Rourke looked epic, the new effects and suit looked epic...pretty much everything about this film seemed epic. And I loved this film. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. But there was one nagging problem: it wasn't as epic as the first one. Maybe it was a case of sequel-itis but it just lacked that excitement that I had with the first one. The most quotable line was cut out, parts dragged on longer than they should have, Mickey Rourke was a waste, the end fight was lame, ScarJo was underused and the father side story seemed like something the first movie should have had, not this one. So in that sense, the film was great, but also a disappointment.

4. Alice in Wonderland
 Call me crazy but I got excited about this film. Alice in Wonderland was a great film and a definite Disney classic but I've been wanting to see someone try to remake it. The mini-series Alice was a great example of how to do it right and after watching that I figured Burton's would be just as good if not better. I mean it's Burton and Depp. The man who made me fall in love with Sweeney Todd all over again. The man whose middle name is darkly awesome. The man who made Christmas creepy. was not better than fact it wasn't even that good. It took a dump not only on the source material but on the original Disney classic as well. Call me overly sensitive but trampling the main reason people are seeing your movie is not a smart decision. Also was it just me or was it waaay to creepy for it's own good. It calls itself a kids film but for a kids film it was still really dark. Add in throwaway cameos of many of Burton's other collaborators, a scenery eating Depp and Mrs. Burton and an annoying Avril Lavigne theme song and you got a film that just makes me sad.

3. The Tourist- 
 Before I say anything let me say this: I love Johnny Depp. I think he is not only a great actor but a great guy. I figure I'd say that since I'm trashing his two big movies he came out with this year. The Tourist was a film with SO much promise. You have a film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, a screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) and starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie based on an amazing French film called Anthony Zimmer. By name alone this should have been an amazing film. The trailers were certainly awesome for it and the posters and stills just as impressive. But instead of the amazing film that should have been, we got a mediocre film whose biggest crime is that it's boring almost to the point of tears. It's well acted but fails to cause any real excitement and any attempts at twists are called way in advance and lack any real punch. It's sad really. Oh well.

2. Robin Hood-
 Like the Tourist, Robin Hood should, by name alone, have been a great film. You have talented actors like Russell Crowe who excel in action movies. You have Cate Blanchett who could read the phone book and win the Oscar. You have Mark Strong, William Hurt, Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, Matthew MacFadyen and Danny Huston rounding out the cast, all of which are pretty good actors. You have Mystic River writer Brian Helgeland doing the screenplay and Ridley Scott directing it. It should have been epic. Like the Tourist the trailers for this were epic. The origin story to one of the greatest legends of all time. What we got was a plodding film with little to no action until the climax and way, way to much free time. This movie could have been 80 minutes and would have been much better. Instead it was over 2 hours. And most of that time was wasted. The saddest news is there might be a sequel and if it's anything like this, I'm worried.

1. The Wolfman-
The whole reason is posted in my Worst Movie of 2010 section but I'll say this. It earned it's spot as the most disappointing film of 2010. So congrats?

Well that does it for my Worst/Most Disappointing Movies of 2010 list. I'll be back tomorrow with more of my Top/Best lists of 2010. Hope you enjoyed and let me know what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top 10 Best/Favorite Movies of 2010

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Well it's a brand new year everyone and you know what that means right? We're heading into awards season! And with every award season comes every critic, be it professional or amateur, releasing their "Best of" lists. Now this won't just be a one shot thing for me. Besides my Best/Favorite Movies of 2010 list I will also be doing my Worst Films of 2010 list, my Best Movie Moments of 2010 list, my Best Trailers (I am the host of Trailer Talk Thursday after all) list, my Best Posters List as well as acting/effects and the whole nine yards you'd come to expect. As the old Mythbusters saying goes "If it's worth's worth overdoing!"

But first and foremost comes the list that everyone is probably dying to hear: my Best/Favorite Lists of 2010. Now before I go on I can see you reading this and wondering "Huh...why does he keep slashing Best and Favorite?" Well dear reader it's because like many critics I know, Nick Jobe being the first that comes to mind, my Best Movies of 2010 and Favorite Movies of 2010 list are two totally different entities. On my Best Movie list I'll be doing all (or most) of the artsy, dramatic, award worthy movies that people will be talking about come Oscar time. My FAVORITE list on the other hand delves into films that I love, that I would watch (and probably have) multiple times, but would be (with the exception of maybe two) laughed out of the Oscars. I am a man whose middle name is guilty pleasure and while my taste may come into questioning, I stand by my decisions and in fact I treat my favorites list almost more seriously then my best. It's easy to think of what the best movies of this year were but what films will I be watching ten years from now?

First up though I put on my "critic" glasses and don a Posh British accent for my...


...list. (Disclaimer: I have not REVIEWED all of the movies on both lists but I'm getting to it shortly)

10. The Town-
 Ben Affleck's sophomore directorial piece following the lives of bank robbers in a seedy area of Boston succeeds in two ways: First, it cements the fact that Ben Affleck is a force to be reckoned with behind the camera and secondly, it shows that Jeremy Renner, even in a supporting role, is still as good as he was in The Hurt Locker and arguably better now then he ever was. It's a gripping drama with fantastic acting, great action scenes, characters you care about and is only brought down by a half-assed love story. But that is fixed in the extended edition so really that point might as well be moot. Ben Affleck is only getting better with age and I can't wait to see where his journey takes him next.

9. Toy Story 3- 
 To say Pixar knows how to do animated movies well is like saying that a butcher knows how to cut meat. Pixar has dominated animation since it's debut and has successfully blended the line between kid and adult films, making movies that everyone of any age can enjoy. Toy Story 3 is no exception and even breaks the rule of three that seems to haunt so many franchises. Yes this third entry is actually better than the first two in almost every way. And as a child of the 90s, Toy Story played a big part in my childhood so to see all the characters I loved all grown up actually felt really good. We grew together. And, like so many Pixar films before it, it also touched me deeply to the point where I was leaving the theater a mess. A masterpiece from beginning to end, Toy Story 3 is the finale all of us kids of the 90s wanted to see.

8. Inception-
 When I first saw this movie back in the Summer of 2010 I was stunned. I had never seen anything like Inception before and it messed with my head in ways that had me talking to people for days. The ingenious mind of Christopher Nolan struck again, making movie goers around the world talk about what they had just watched. But then a few weeks later I saw the film again. It was still a great film but like Barney to growing kids, some of the fantasy wore off. The plot chugged in areas, audio was sometimes muffled or way too loud for it's own good, there were continuity errors and plot holes that began to spring up and the star was being outshone by basically every other actor in the movie. But despite these growing complaints Inception was still a really good movie. DiCaprio gives another wonderful performance, Tom Hardy and Jo-Go are fantastic, Ellen Page, despite her sometimes monotonous voice is great and the action and effects were still as good as ever. It's been talked to death and I'm probably not helping by talking about it more but Inception is great and I can't wait to see Nolan's next film.

7. The Fighter-
Up until I had watched The Fighter I was pretty down on the whole film. It screamed desperate Oscar bait/Rocky rip-off, starred two of my least favorite A-List actors and cast Amy Adams in a role that seemed way too out of her ability. Then I watched the movie. Well they say people can't change but here I am to tell you my mind was completely changed. It was an exciting and moving drama worthy of being in the same ring as Rocky, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale (Bale especially) were fantastic in their roles, and Amy Adams gave a phenomenal performance acting totally out of her comfort zone in a role that's bound to earn her an Oscar. An awesome movie from start to finish and one that is deserving of it's hype.

6. Fair Game-
 I knew absolutely jack about this movie before it came out. I hadn't seen a trailer, I saw maybe one teaser poster and knew nothing about the true story that it's based off of. The only reason I even saw it was because I wanted to try out this new little indie theater downtown and that was one of the three films playing and the only one I hadn't seen. I figured it couldn't be that bad considering it has Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in it. Well I was right. It wasn't bad, it was awesome. A taut political thriller dealing with the lead up to and initial attack in Afghanistan and how political scapegoating cost the job of a top CIA agent, Penn and Watts play their roles effortlessly and provide a great commentary on the politics going on behind closed doors in the early 2000s. I loved to be surprised by a film and Fair Game was definitely a surprise.

5. Restrepo-
 I've seen a ton of documentaries this year. I saw one about the financial crisis, one about a football player turned soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, one about the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII, one about Joan Rivers, one about public education, one about a crazed Frenchmen turned street artist (which I'll talk about later in the post) and this one: Restrepo. Restrepo follows two journalists from Vanity Fair who spend a year with soldiers stationed at an outpost in the Korangal Valley. It opts out of the usual documentary style of showing and then telling or mixing telling in with the showing. Instead it tells almost as much, if not more, than it shows. And every minute of it is a powerful example of wartime right now and what these soldiers have to deal with. People die left and right but they have to push forward and persevere, even if it's hard. A great documentary and a powerful piece of cinema.

4. The Social Network-
 (In a sarcastic tone) Shocker. Who would have thought that the guy who is on Facebook all the time and whose top 5 movies include two of the directors previous films and whose 6th all time favorite show is the West Wing would have loved this film. It's a Shyamalanian twist no one could see coming. (End Sarcastic Tone). In all seriousness though this film was basically catered to someone like me, and even after 4 viewings it's still an intense, hilarious, well acted and gripping film about the rise to power and the problems that can come from that. Everyone, especially Andrew Garfield, gives an Oscar worthy performance and Aaron Sorkin's writing is just a joy to listen to. I tried to find reasons to hate or dislike this film but I just can't find any. An amazing and fun to watch film.

3. Black Swan-
 Darren, you crazy, crazy man. How could you possibly make me afraid of the ballet? What's that? Watch Black Swan? Okay. *Watches Black Swan* Shower...shower...need shower. Great film with astounding performances all around, captivating visuals and an ending no one sees coming but damn you for making me feel dirty every time I look at swans now. Gah...

2. 127 Hours-
 "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is an amazing book. Aron Ralston is a courageous and inspirational person and a definite hero of mine. So when I heard they were making a film version with one of my favorite "needs a career push" actors James Franco and one of the best working directors today Danny Boyle, I was ecstatic. And I was not disappointed. Franco and Boyle do the near impossible task of making an almost one man show movie not only watchable, but spectacular. Boyle uses quick cuts, flashbacks, premonitions and unique camera angles to keep the action fresh without being frantic and Franco has enough charisma to make himself a lovable hero, who you want to see succeed. 127 Hours also has one of the most powerful and hard to watch climax's that, with the help of Boyle staple A.R. Rahman, has you literally on the edge of your seat with one hand over your eyes. One of the years best and an amazing ride from start to finish.

1. Blue Valentine-
Despite an odd NC-17 rating choice by the MPAA which kept this movie from being released earlier, I'm glad it got switched around in time to be released for 2010. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are great actresses that excel at being subtly powerful. And what better a display of that then Blue Valentine? It takes a topic we all know pretty well: love and break-ups, but does it in a realistic and depressing tone that makes you truly value any relationship that you have. Dean and Cindy feel like real people. They are a couple that went through a whirlwind romance that led quickly into marriage and quickly into parenthood. Lots of relationships in today's world go by so fast that when the dust settles and the love blinders are taken off, a good number of them end up like Dean and Cindy. In a 2 hour film you see both love flourish and die a slow, painful death. They both know the end is near but they don't want to accept it. It's a daunting look at romance and it's a film that won't be forgotten, at least by me, for a long time.

I won't give the big detailed list but these other films were considered or were in the list at some point:
1. Shutter Island
2. The Killer Inside Me
3. Hereafter

Now I'm going to move into my...



10. Jackass 3D/Piranha 3D-
 I realize I'm kind of bending the rules here by having a tie but it was just too hard to decide between these two. They both showcase why and how 3D works in movies (if you're going to have it, use it!), neither take themselves too seriously and they are both a hoot to watch, be it by yourself or with a friend. So I said screw it it's my list and decided to turn my number 10 spot into my 3D double feature spot. And it's staying that way.

9. The Expendables-
 Watched by many, loved by few, The Expendables has divided audiences and critics alike in ways that I hadn't seen since Avatar. Some think it is a disjointed, poorly acted, non-exciting Michael Bay wannabe film starring a bunch of washed up action heroes patting themselves on the back because of how awesome they are, and some think it's a leave your brain at the door action packed throwback to the 70s and 80s that is enjoyable from start to finish. Me? I know the movie has a ton of flaws. But I am willing to overlook a good portion of these flaws because I just have so much fun watching the movie. Even after multiple viewings I still get a kick out of the movie and enjoy watching it with a bunch of friends.

8. Hot Tub Time Machine-
 Yet another divider of a movie but this time a little less angry coming from the negative party. Instead it was "I love this movie" or " was okay." Me? I love this movie. It's a raunch comedy with a heart of gold and a great message of friendship, second chances and family. That and it's really funny. John Cusack and Clark Duke are great straight men, Rob Corddry has great comedic timing and Craig Robinson has the ability to say whatever he wants and be funny. Include plenty of 80s music and nostalgia, supporting roles by Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover and one of the most straight to the point titles I've heard and you got a great comedy.

7. Kick-Ass-
Nowadays a superhero movie is as about as common as a romantic comedy or a cop procedural on TV. Some are really good, some, mostly before the major comic companies got their own production studios, were really mediocre and some are just painful to watch. Kick-Ass is breath of fresh air to this almost now overcrowded genre. Based on one of my favorite comic author Mark Millar's miniseries of the same name (Millar is also behind Wanted) this movie adaptation from Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn is entertaining, funny, well acted, realistically gory (and therefore gruesome to watch sometimes) and has Nic Cage doing Adam West doing Batman. *Mind Blown* This film has received plenty of opposition, questioning the moral compass of the film as well as the character of Hit-Girl altogether, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it sits proud with the rest of my superhero movies.

6. The Social Network-
I already talked it to death in my "Best Movies of 2010" section but the reason that I also put it on my favorites list is I've watched it 4 times in cinema and now once already on Blu-Ray. And the whole point of favorites is films I would watch over and over so yeah...this movie fits.

5. Easy A-
Emma Stone is hot. She isn't hot because of her looks though (although they certainly don't hurt), she is hot because she is smart, has great comedic timing, is genuinely funny, can be self-deprecating, is humble and is just awesome overall. Easy A showcases all of that. Easy A is an homage to all those 80s rom-com's and knows it. It has amazing performances from Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, has plenty of laugh out loud moments and underneath everything has a heart of gold and a message that can ring true to anyone that went through High School. I give this film an A! *Slap* Ow...I deserved that.

4. Get Him to the Greek-
Honestly I was a bit shocked I loved this film as much as I did when I first walked out of the theater. Then again the pitch of a Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off/sequel didn't really strike me as necessary or really wanted. But then trailers started coming in and there were some genuine laughs in it. I feared it would suffer from "Every good joke is in the trailer"-itis, but alas it has so much more funny in it then I would've ever hoped. From beginning to end I was in near tears laughing so hard and even after watching it a second and third time I was still laughing just as hard. Brand is a joy to watch and Hill doesn't play the overtly foul mouthed, loud, crude and rude guy we are used to seeing. There are still hints of him present but he actually is more subdued which, played against Brand and P. Diddy (or Diddy or whatever) is actually really good. Great film from start to finish.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs the World-
Here is a secret: it took me watching Scott Pilgrim 3 times before I liked it. It took me 2 more to love it. Why is that you ask? Well the first time I saw it I was a bit bored. I had read the comic series over and over so to see a lot of the same scenes almost word for word the same, it felt a bit boring. The second time I watched it I was Comic Book Guy pointing out all of the continuity errors and differences from the comic that I thought were just completely ludicrous that they left out. But then I watched it a third time and really just watched it for what it was: a film ADAPTATION of Scott Pilgrim. And I actually just sat back, took off the fanboy glasses and watched it. And I liked it. Then I bought it on Blu-Ray and watched it a few more times. And I realized it got better every time I watched it. The acting is great, the jokes are hilarious, the soundtrack is still my favorite of all time, and it's just a feast for the eyes.I love the movie now and it sits neatly besides all my other Edgar Wright films. Does it beat Shaun or Fuzz? To But it's still really awesome. 

2. The Crazies-
 Pick up your jaw...I'll wait. You good? Yes The Crazies is my number 2. A horror film with not only a message but good acting and seriously intense thrills is seemingly hard to find nowadays. Not even the Descent could do all three and I loved that movie. No, Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead was the last one to actually do all three and since then I have been waiting for a film on par with that. Then The Crazies came along and gave me hope for the genre. Another Romero remake oddly enough, The Crazies features consistently amazing TV superstar Timothy Olyphant, horror scream queen Radha Mitchell and one of the reasons I liked Across the Universe's Joe Anderson. All three give amazing performances, Anderson especially since his character goes through so much in such a short time. Add in some heart stopping scenes (I'm now afraid of car washes) and one of the best scenes in recent film history (which I'll cover in my top moments of 2010 post) The Crazies is a great film that should be the standard for horror films to come.

And my number 1....

1. Exit Through the Gift Shop-
I have a confession...I love street art. I don't call it graffiti because I don't believe it's that. Graffiti has such negative connotations and what some of these greats do is honest to goodness art. And the Warhol/Van Gogh/Picasso (basically the visionary) of street art is Banksy. Known for pushing boundaries and doing any and everything for the sake of art, he is a true artist of our time. So when I heard that he was directing a documentary I was excited. And when I sat down and watched it I was blown away. What I got was an amazing zero to hero story of Mister Brainwash aka Thierry Guetta who is as crazy as he is fun to watch. His following around of major players in the street art game for basically the first two thirds of the film would have been enough for me. His interviews, mannerisms, habits and craziness make him as lovable as his is obviously annoying. But Banksy went the extra step and showed how timing and hype is everything in the world of modern art. He took what he learned from his friends, copied them and a bunch of other people's work and used the almost ungodly power of timing and hype to turn himself into a superstar overnight. It's an interesting look at not just street art but art itself and is enjoyable from beginning to end. I have watched this about a dozen times now and every time I still have a smile plastered on my face. Is it real or is it fake? Honestly I don't care. Even if it's all a hoax it doesn't take away from the true awesomeness of this film.

Well that's it for my Best/Favorite Movies of 2010 list. Stay tuned for my Worst of 2010 list, my Best Moments of 2010 list and everything else in my TME presents "Best of 2010."