Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Favorites – 2012

I've been keeping track of my reviews/ratings on Letterboxd. So from here on out, that would be the best place to check for future ratings. I'll tend to use the blog for lists or predictions. These are movies that I found to be my favorites, not necessarily what some may dub 'the best movies of 2012.' So without further ado:

My top 10 picks for 2012:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Academy Awards - 2013

An Academy Award statuette, depicting a knight, rendered in Art Deco style, holding a crusader's swordIt's that time of year again...The Academy Awards (Oscars) are finally here. Last year, I went 16/24 (67%) and the year before that I was 17/24 (71%). Hopefully I'll see an improvement this year and not continue the downward trend. As always, the acting categories and Best Picture are almost completely a lock (apart from Best Supporting Actor). Almost everything else is kind of guesswork. My picks are in  light blue, movies I've seen are blue text (with my rating). Winners will be in red.

Final Tally 18/24 (75%)

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Amour (2012): Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz
Argo (2012): Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney(5 Stars)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald
Django Unchained (2012): Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone
Les Misérables (2012): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh (4½ Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark
Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012) (4½ Stars)
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)
Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I) (3½ Stars)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (2012)
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin for Argo (2012) (5 Stars)
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for The Master (2012)
Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)
Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012) (4½ Stars)
Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Best Achievement in Directing
Michael Haneke for Amour (2012)
Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)
David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Amour (2012): Michael Haneke
Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino
Flight (2012/I): John Gatins (3½ Stars)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012): Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola (4 Stars)
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Argo (2012): Chris Terrio (5 Stars)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi (2012): David Magee
Lincoln (2012): Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): David O. Russell

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Brave (2012): Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman (3½ Stars)
Frankenweenie (2012): Tim Burton (4½ Stars)
ParaNorman (2012): Sam Fell, Chris Butler (3½ Stars)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012): Peter Lord (3½ Stars)
Wreck-It Ralph (2012): Rich Moore

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Amour (2012)(Austria)
War Witch (2012)(Canada)
No (2012/I)(Chile)
A Royal Affair (2012)(Denmark)
Kon-Tiki (2012)(Norway)

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Seamus McGarvey (3½ Stars)
Django Unchained (2012): Robert Richardson
Life of Pi (2012): Claudio Miranda
Lincoln (2012): Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall (2012): Roger Deakins (3½ Stars)

Best Achievement in Editing
Argo (2012): William Goldenberg (5 Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Tim Squyres
Lincoln (2012): Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor

Best Achievement in Production Design
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer (3½ Stars)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright (5 Stars)
Les Misérables (2012): Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson (4½ Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): David Gropman, Anna Pinnock
Lincoln (2012): Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Jacqueline Durran (3½ Stars)
Les Misérables (2012): Paco Delgado (4½ Stars)
Lincoln (2012): Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror (2012/I): Eiko Ishioka (2½ Stars)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Colleen Atwood

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock (2012): Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane (5 Stars)
Les Misérables (2012): Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell (4½ Stars)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Dario Marianelli (3½ Stars)
Argo (2012): Alexandre Desplat (5 Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Mychael Danna
Lincoln (2012): John Williams
Skyfall (2012): Thomas Newman (3½ Stars)

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Chasing Ice (2012): J. Ralph("Before My Time")
Les Misérables (2012): Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer("Suddenly") (4½ Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Mychael Danna, Bombay Jayshree("Pi's Lullaby")
Skyfall (2012): Adele, Paul Epworth("Skyfall") (3½ Stars)
Ted (2012): Walter Murphy, Seth MacFarlane("Everybody Needs a Best Friend") (3½ Stars)

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Argo (2012): John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, José Antonio García
Les Misérables (2012): Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes (4½ Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Drew Kunin
Lincoln (2012): Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ron Judkins
Skyfall (2012): Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Stuart Wilson

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Argo (2012): Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn (5 Stars)
Django Unchained (2012): Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi (2012): Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton
Skyfall (2012): Per Hallberg, Karen M. Baker (3½ Stars)
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Paul N.J. Ottosson

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
The Avengers (2012): Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick (4½ Stars)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White (5 Stars)
Life of Pi (2012): Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott
Prometheus (2012/I): Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill (4 Stars)
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

Best Documentary, Feature
5 Broken Cameras (2011): Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers (2012): Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, Estelle Fialon
How to Survive a Plague (2012): David France, Howard Gertler
The Invisible War (2012): Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering
Searching for Sugar Man (2012): Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Best Documentary, Short Subject
Inocente (2012): Sean Fine, Andrea Nix
Kings Point (2012): Sari Gilman, Jedd Wider
Mondays at Racine (2012): Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan
Open Heart (2013): Kief Davidson, Cori Shepherd Stern
Redemption (2012/V): Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill

Best Short Film, Animated
Adam and Dog (2011): Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole (2012): PES
Head Over Heels (2012): Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Paperman (2012): John Kahrs(4½ Stars)
The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare (2012): David Silverman (4 Stars)

Best Short Film, Live Action
Asad (2012): Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura
Buzkashi Boys (2012): Sam French, Ariel Nasr
Curfew (2012/I): Shawn Christensen
Death of a Shadow (2012): Tom Van Avermaet, Ellen De Waele
Henry (2011/III): Yan England

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes - 2013

Going to do my best to make some quick Golden Globe picks (just going to do the movies). It's definitely easier to pick the Oscars as the Globes feel more random...So, here we go:

My Pick - Correct

7/14 Correct

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Argo (2012)
Django Unchained (2012)
Life of Pi (2012)
Lincoln (2012)
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Les Misérables (2012)
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)
Richard Gere for Arbitrage (2012)
John Hawkes for The Sessions (2012)
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)
Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone (2012)
Helen Mirren for Hitchcock (2012)
Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)
Rachel Weisz for The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Jack Black for Bernie (2011)
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012)
Ewan McGregor for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Bill Murray for Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011)
Judi Dench for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Maggie Smith for Quartet (2012)
Meryl Streep for Hope Springs (2012)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Alan Arkin for Argo (2012)
Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained (2012)
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams for The Master (2012)
Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)
Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)
Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)
Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy (2012)

Best Director - Motion Picture
Ben Affleck for Argo (2012)
Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)
Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained (2012)

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Argo (2012): Chris Terrio
Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino
Lincoln (2012): Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook (2012): David O. Russell
Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
Act of Valor (2012): Monty Powell, Keith Urban("For You")
The Hunger Games (2012): Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T-Bone Burnett("Safe and Sound")
Les Misérables (2012): Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer("Suddenly")
Skyfall (2012): Adele, Paul Epworth("Skyfall")
Stand Up Guys (2012): Jon Bon Jovi("Not Running Anymore")

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Anna Karenina (2012/I): Dario Marianelli
Argo (2012): Alexandre Desplat
Cloud Atlas (2012): Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer
Life of Pi (2012): Mychael Danna
Lincoln (2012): John Williams

Best Animated Film
Brave (2012)
Frankenweenie (2012)
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Best Foreign Language Film
Amour (2012)
The Intouchables (2011)
Kon-Tiki (2012)
A Royal Affair (2012)
Rust and Bone (2012)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Watchlist - Top 10 Anticipated Movies

Since it's the beginning of the New Year, I thought I'd take a look at movies that are coming out this year. When 2014 rolls around, we'll see how well I did in terms of picks:

First of all, the Honorable Mentions (no particular order):
The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3

10. Gravity
New, original science-fiction from the director of "Children of Men" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" Alfonso Cuaron and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as scientists trapped floating above earth in their damaged spacecraft. "Gravity" should be a great looking and intelligent sci-fi movie. Should be in theaters October 18th.

9. After Earth
M. Night Shyamalan's latest entry looks to be a return to form after his "Last Airbender" fiasco. Will and Jaden Smith attempt to survive an alien world after crash landing. I've enjoyed pretty much all of Shyamalan's movie in one way or another, so I still have high hopes for this one. In theaters June 7th.

8. Man of Steel
Zack Snyder (with a little help from Christopher Nolan) tries to tackle a Superman reboot. Hopefully Zach Snyder will get out of his own way and make a solid starter to DC's attempt at solidifying their universe. Flies into theaters June 14th.

7. Monsters University
Pixar's latest is a prequel to the fantastic "Monster's Inc." This time we get the story of how Mike and Sully meet, and is also the first time Pixar has attempted a prequel. "Monster's Inc." is one of my favorite Pixar movies, so it'll be interesting to see if they can recapture the magic of that movie (without Boo no less). Scaring its way onto screens June 21st.

6. Ender's Game
An adaptation of the hugely popular sci-fi novel starring Asa Butterfield ("Hugo") and Harrison Ford. Largely considered a tough book to bring to screen. No trailer has been released yet, but that should change in the next couple months. "Ender's Game" is due out November 1st.

5. Elysium
From the director of "District 9," Neill Blomkamp brings another original sci-fi idea to the screen. This time he has Matt Damon, a man on a mission to the floating utopia Elysium. "District 9" was definitely fun, so it's interesting to see if Blomkamp can replicate his success. Latest news puts the release date as August 9th.

4. Upstream Color
Shane Carruth's "Primer" is one of the most original (and also confusing) time travel movies made. Equally intriguing is his follow-up "Upstream Color." I have no idea what this movie is about, but it definitely looks interesting. The release date is just as ambiguous as the movie, expected around April 5th.

3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Part two of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" trilogy looks to continue the fun from part one. I look forward to jumping back into this story after fully enjoying "An Unexpected Journey." Not sure where this one will cut off, but it should have plenty of great scenes to it. The Journey continues December 13th.

2. Star Trek Into Darkness
The sequel to JJ Abram's 2007 Reboot sees the Enterprise crew facing a mysterious Benedict Cumberbatch bent on revenge. I was a huge fan of the original and I'm seriously excited to see Cumberbatch join the cast. All the talk is whether or not he is Khan or someone else entirely. We'll find out May 17th.

1. The World's End
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are among my favorite duos working in movies right now. "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" are two of my all-time favorite movies. So it wasn't too hard to pick "The World's End" as my top movie to look forward to in 2013. Edgar Wright has not made a bad movie, and I don't think he's going to start now. This time around, the group of friends, including Pegg, Nick Frost (of course), Eddie Marsan ("Sherlock Holmes"), Paddy Considine ("Hot Fuzz") and Martin Freeman ("The Hobbit" and "Sherlock"). The pub crawl (and the end of the world) begins October 25th.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Far over the Misty Mountains cold...

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - (5 Stars)

After bringing to life the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy around a decade ago (really?), Peter Jackson is now finishing the work he started by bringing to life J.R.R. Tolkien's original Middle Earth tale, The Hobbit, to life. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in a planned trilogy (originally planned as only 2 movies) adapting the book, padded up a bit with extras from the Lord of the Ring appendices and other works such as The Silmarillion. What results is a more epic version of the beloved tale better incorporated into the mythos of middle-earth than the book itself.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"The Hobbit" is visually and thematically in line with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The book is definitely a simpler story than it's Lord of the Rings companions, but after writing, Tolkien did try to link them and Jackson is taking the next step by integrating the appendices and other source material to really make the Hobbit feel like a true precursor to the epic.

The film, apart from the fantastic visuals, also has excellent casting. Martin Freeman is perfect as Bilbo, the loveable, bumbling burglar. Although, for the sake of the movie (being part of a trilogy), Bilbo does step up his game a bit. Richard Armitage also shines as Thorin, the leader of the 13 dwarves that arrive at Bilbo's doorstep looking for the 14th member of their party. Of course, as usual, the returning cast also shine (such as Ian McKellan as Gandalf, and Ian Holm as the older Bilbo).

The main concern I had going into the movie related to the visual effects. For the previous movies, Jackson utilized lots of practical effects (extras and miniature sets). However in the Hobbit, the vast majority (if not all) of the creatures are CGI, as is most of the scenery. At parts, these effects are pretty obvious and slightly distracting, but the overall effect works.

Overall, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a great start to the second trilogy of middle earth movies. Peter Jackson does a great job of tying the everything together and tries his best to make it feel like a single, contained movie, but it definitely feels more like part of a whole, long movie. Just like with his previous Tolkien movies, Jackson does take some liberties with the source material in order to adapt the book smoothly for the screen, but does so with the same keen eye that made the Lord of the Rings trilogy such a wide success.
(166 minutes - Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images - 2012)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flashback Quick Reviews: "My Name Is Toxic"

My Name is Bruce - (3½ Stars)

My Name Is BruceWho do you call if an ancient Chinese god of war shows up and starts killing off townspeople? If you're the small town of Goldlick, Oregon you call Bruce Campbell since he has experience with this sort of thing (or rather, his character Ash, from the Evil Dead movies, does). Bruce Campbell plays himself (although a bit more self involved), but everyone in town treats him as if he's a character from one of his B-Movies.

The movie has a good mix of humor (some slapstick, some referential to Bruce's past movies). If you're a fan of Bruce Campbell and B-Movies, this movie is definitely for you. If not, then "My Name is Bruce" will probably not be your cup of tea.
(86 minutes - Rated R for language and some violence - 2007)

The Toxic Avenger - (2 Stars)

The Toxic Avenger
Regular schlub Melvin is the mop boy at the Tromaville gym until some bullies force him out a window and into a vat of toxic sludge. Melvin begins to mutate and turns into The Toxic Avenger, bent on dishing out justice to those who pick on the little guys and cause trouble in Tromaville, including those responsible for his transformation.

Troma was the king of low-budget B-movies in the 80's, starting with "The Toxic Avenger" and its various sequels. They're well known for plenty of over-the-top gore, low brow humor and general B-movie campiness. "The Toxic Avenger" is no exception. I'm generally a fan of this type of movie, but "Toxic..." was just too much for me. The gore was definitely ridiculous (in a good way), but apart from that, the movie as a whole is pretty shallow.
(82 minutes - Unrated - 1985)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Why Do We Fall?

The Dark Knight Rises - (5 Stars)

After what most people dubbed one of the greatest Comic movies of all time in "The Dark Knight," Christopher Nolan has the challenge of coming up with an epic conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy. Apart from just the challenge of meeting high expectations, Nolan had to make a different movie than he probably initially would have planned with the untimely passing of Heath Ledger (The Joker). However, despite these obstacles, Nolan still manages to go out with a bang.

 "The Dark Knight Rises" picks up 8 years after the events of "The Dark Knight" and finds a Gotham almost free of crime due to the deal Batman and Commissioner Gordon make. However, both men are still haunted by what happened and the choices they made. Now, a new threat has come to Gotham in the form of Bane and the Dark Knight decides it may be time to come out of retirement.

The Dark Knight RisesNolan has brought together quite the cast, managing to fill even the smallest role with someone fitting.Tom Hardy is especially impressive and intimidating as Bane and the ensemble in general give great performance, along with several of the newcomers to the series like Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, a by-the-books cop working under Commissioner Gordon, and Anne Hathaway as the mysterious Selina Kyle. The holdovers from previous movie continue their strong body of work: such as Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Christian Bale.

The movie is pretty large in scope (and running time), but it is surprisingly well paced for a movie nearing 3 hours. Probably helps in part due to the structure of the story, similar to the Avengers in that it seems to have three distinct acts to it (I've given them nicknames which may be spoilery: Broken, No Man's Land, Rise). There's a lot going on, but as is usual with Nolan he starts by laying out all the pieces of the puzzle before the movie begins to put everything together.

"The Dark Knight Rises" brings the trilogy full circle in terms of plot, themes and even the visuals with plenty of references or nods back to the previous movies as well as continuations of the themes. The movie brings a close to Nolan's Dark Knight story in a way only he could and really makes it feel like a truly epic three film character story arc.
(165 minutes - Rated PG-13 for  intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language - 2012)