OSCAR COUNTDOWN

Only 5 months and 8 days until the next Oscars are awarded on March 4, 2018.

RECENT POSTS

MISCELLANEOUS

Logan Lucky

There’s no way it could be this simple. Fifteen minutes into watching director Steven Soderbergh’s latest film (his first in four years), Logan Lucky, I felt this wave of joy come over me that was so unexpected. My most favorite Soderbergh film, Ocean’s Eleven (2001), was about eleven guys who come together to plan and execute an elaborate robbery of a Vegas casino vault, in arguably the best heist movie of all time. And now, here I was, 16 years later, watching a movie set in rural West Virginia about a couple of brothers who get their friends together to….rob the vault of the Charlotte Motor Speedway? This was finally the Ocean’s Eleven sequel I’d been waiting for!! (I understand there were two actual Ocean’s Eleven sequels, but did you see them? They totally don’t count.)
click here to keep reading Logan Lucky »

Atomic Blonde

There are so many things I loved about Atomic Blonde:

1. It’s a female-driven action movie that’s not based on a comic-book.

2. Charlize Theron plays the female equivalent of James Bond.

3. It’s set in late 80’s Berlin

4. The soundtrack is wall-to-wall ‘80s alternative classics

5. The only sex scene is a same-sex one

It’s as if they said to themselves, “let’s make a movie for Catherine.”

So, all that being true, how on earth could I not love it? Well, I did love it…sort of. Once I realized that Atomic Blonde was not meant to be taken too seriously, or even literally, I just sat back and took the ride. And I have to say it was quite a thrilling roller-coaster, even with its flaws.
click here to keep reading Atomic Blonde »

Dunkirk

I’ve already heard many words used to describe writer/director Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Dunkirk. The loudest one I’ve heard from movie critics and commenters has been “masterpiece.” Critics are roundly praising Dunkirk as a visionary piece of cinematic excellence that will wow you and stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

As for me, I am chagrined to say I can only agree with some of that.

Nolan is a visionary filmmaker, there is no arguing with that. The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar—each of these films is powerful, elegantly brutal, haunting and beautiful. And Dunkirk is no exception. But what’s interesting to me is to note the element that always made a Nolan film unique is the one thing that is missing from Dunkirk: complexity.
click here to keep reading Dunkirk »

The 25 Best Films of the Decade...So Far

photo When New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott recently published their list of The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century So Far, it not only served as fodder for many a debate among movie lovers of all ages, but it inspired other critics to follow suit and put together their own lists. Who am I to break ranks.

Here are the movies that I think have been the best since 2000. Caveat: to qualify for my list, a movie must have been released in the United States between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2016 and be a movie that I have or plan to watch again. Let the debates begin!

1. The Social Network
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Departed
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. Ocean’s Eleven
7. 3:10 to Yuma
8. WALL-E
9. Bridesmaids
10. Kill Bill: Volume 2
11. Gladiator
12. Carol
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel
14. Almost Famous
15. Kill Bill: Volume 1
16. 40-Year Old Virgin
17. No Country For Old Men
18. Best in Show
19. La La Land
20. The Tree of Life
21. Mean Girls
22. Birdman
23. Lost in Translation
24. The Dark Knight
25. Gravity

A couple of other lists to round it out:

FILMS I RESPECT BUT WILL NEVER WATCH AGAIN:

Gangs of New York
A Beautiful Mind
The Hours
Mystic River
Million Dollar Baby
United 93
Babel
The Cove
Traffic
There Will Be Blood
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Precious
Lincoln
Life of Pi
12 Years a Slave
Room
Moonlight

BOTTOM 14: MOVIES I HATED, aka THE WORST MOVIES OF THE DECADE SO FAR

1. Requiem For a Dream
2. I Heart Huckabees
3. American Sniper
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. By the Sea
6. The Counselor
7. Adaptation
8. Atonement
9. Vanilla Sky
10. Avatar
11. Open Water
12. Australia
13. AI: Artificial Intelligence
14. Pearl Harbor

Wonder Woman

photo I will admit I prefer the old-school approach when it comes to superheroes. I grew up with the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and, of course, Adam West (RIP) as Batman and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on TV. These movies and shows were not enough to totally suck me into the comic book culture, but they were enjoyable and memorable parts of my childhood. They were, on the whole, light and easygoing, low on special effects and high on personality and charm, and, more important than anything, they had an almost innocent quality about them; a quality that today might be called sentimental or cheesy. But all of this was part of their charm and arguably part of the reason the comic book culture is still thriving today.

I have to also admit, though, that I have also been able to embrace—and actually love—the more “modern” interpretations of the superhero movies as well. The dark and cynical The Dark Knight and The Watchmen stand the test of time for me, as do the snarky and fun Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.
click here to keep reading Wonder Woman »

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 & Alien: Covenant

photo photo In case anyone was wondering, I did see Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 and Alien: Covenant. So why didn’t I write about them? Well, maybe it was out of respect for their elders (they are both sequels) or maybe it was just a lack of inspiration. While Guardians of the Galaxy, v 2 was fun and a nice reminder of how much I loved the first one, Alien: Covenant was so depressingly disappointing that the last thing I wanted to do was write about exactly how depressed I was.
click here to keep reading Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 & Alien: Covenant »

The Zookeeper's Wife

photo Just when you thought there were no more horrible stories to tell about the Nazi atrocities during World War II, we get The Zookeeper’s Wife, a movie based on the best-selling book by Diane Ackerman, which tells a familiar (but still harrowing) story of civilians who tried to help Jews escape the Nazis, and also reveals yet another subset of victims of the Third Reich: animals.

I’m a huge animal lover, so I was resistant to see The Zookeeper’s Wife. The movie tells the true story of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, a Warsaw couple who run the city’s zoo. When the Nazis invade Poland in September, 1939, the zoo is bombed and the animals are, well, obviously, “displaced,” one way or another. I was prepared for this, I tried my best to steel myself, but, even with my eyes closed for about 6 minutes, it was still quite traumatic.
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Personal Shopper

photo Don’t worry about Kristen Stewart. She knows exactly what she’s doing. Having earned international fame and fortune from the Twilight movies, she has now parlayed her Hollywood status into the ability to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. And the movies she wants to make, it seems, are small, stimulating and thoughtful. In other words, as un-Twilight as you can get.

Since the last Twilight movie imploded our box offices in 2012, Stewart has colored in her resume with almost nothing but independent/low budget/foreign films, garnering better and better reviews along the way. Her performances in movies such as Still Alice, Certain Women, Clouds of Sils Maria and Café Society finally led everyone to realize that this girl-who-was-famous-for-being-Bella actually had some depth—both to her acting and to her career aspirations. (Fun fact: in 2015, Stewart became the first American EVER to win a Cesar award—France’s Oscars—for her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria)
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T2 Trainspotting

photo It is the rare occurrence in Hollywood when a sequel comes out that actually feels right. Most, generally speaking, are churned out too soon and for all the wrong reasons, mostly money. However, when there is sincerely more story to tell or a legitimate desire to revisit characters, sequels do make sense. In the case of T2 Trainspotting, both are applicable. The sequel to director Danny Boyle’s 1996 indie classic Trainspotting is not only welcome, but, as it turns out, glorious.
click here to keep reading T2 Trainspotting »

Get Out

photo Public Service Announcement:
If you, like me, are really curious and interested to see the new movie Get Out because of its phenomenal reviews and record-breaking box office numbers, but are nervous to actually go to the theatre to see it because it’s a horror movie and you just don’t do horror, well, I’m here to tell you: Get In.

Get Out’s writer/director, Jordan Peele, just made history by being the first African-American director whose debut film crossed the $100 million mark in box office earnings. And it reached that milestone in just 16 days. A little film that cost only $4.5 million to make, has no big names in it and is labeled a “horror-satire” with shades of social commentary has already made $100 million dollars two weeks in? That’s almost as unheard-of as a $1.5 million movie by a black director, with an all-black cast and a gay storyline winning Best Picture at the Oscars. Oh, wait….

So Get Out is making history. That’s great, but that’s not even the best story about this movie. The best part about Get Out is….it’s really good.
click here to keep reading Get Out »

MY CURRENT SMART PICKS

Top 5 List:

My Five Favorite Female Action Characters:

1. The Bride, Kill Bill, Vol.1 & 2
2. Ellen Ripley, Alien
3. Furiosa, Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
5. Hanna Heller, Hanna

Rental Pick:

Run Lola run (1998)

Favorite Trailer of the Moment:

Awesome Movie Montages and Lists: