Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!!

So as this year closes we enter the new one with several movies that we are awaiting eagerly, and even though I'm very excited about what I've been hearing about the comic-book adaptation Kick-Ass, and Iron Man 2 is probably going to be at a high level of awesome, and we are going to have another Avatar this year (The Last Airbender), the film I await the most is Inception. Inception is the rare completely original film that comes along every once in a while when somebody like Christopher Nolan gets in a rut about what film he wants to do after the star of his last film dies.
So in other words there really isn't anything like it. I'd like to see what amazing feat the director of The Dark Knight can make when he access' his sole intellect and imagination to create a story based on no previous concepts. It's something new that could jump-start a new era of young directors into making intriguing, complex, and logical films that have reason behind their madness. Here's hoping Inception doesn't suck. Follow the link for the trailer:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Top Ten Films of 2009! Part 3 of 2

1.Up (in the Air)For all my hard work I simply could not decide which of these two films I liked better, so naturally they tie for my favorite film of the year. The one that I'm amazed made it into the list at all was Up in the Air which I frankly just saw the other day, but still it left such an impression on me. It made me make the wish that can't come true. I actually wished to know what happened to Ryan Bingham after the film without a sequel ever being released which trust me, it won't be. The ending note of the film is amazing and I couldn't imagine it being anything else but I just feel such a bond with Ryan at the end of this film that I simply must know his ultimate fate. Given the fact that it was just released I don't yet feel comfortable giving a way a single aspect of the plot, because it is too precious an experience to spoil at all.
The movie Up is different because it is kind of a prerequisite for a Disney film to end happily. However they have absolutely no say over what goes on before the movie reaches the end credits. This is probably the most real of the Pixar films to date. I'm not going to say darkest because WALL-E takes that title without a fight, but Up doesn't stray away from the harsher aspects of today's culture. Sure the way some of these things are represented is often comical, but never at the expense of the characters, nor the story. Many shocking aspects of this film make it emotionally resonant in a way Pixar has never before achieved. This is a film that begins with the main character's true love dying, and has his life long idol turn out to be a sociopath. Still it is a heartwarming film above all of Pixar's previous flicks, and that is saying a hell of a lot.

So ultimately these films just struck such an emotional chord inside me, and they felt so in tune with the times that nobody could ignore them. So as expected, they will both likely be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Now that my list is over I can get back to regular postings which I shall start doing immediately. I'll hand in my review of Avatar as soon as I've seen it a second time. I'm still not quite sure of my own opinion on it.

Best Picture Predictions Update

Over the past few weeks my opinion on the Oscar race has been repeatedly confirmed based on the good-but-not-great reception of Invictus, and the altogether shitty reception of Nine. The only change I have to my predictions is the removal of District 9, and the addition of what I have already stated to be my personal leap of faith as far as nominations go, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. So I'll just keep the prediction poll that is already up now going until the close of the year.

Also please leave me comments on what you think because I do read them and I do find them insightful.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Top Ten Films of 2009! Part 2 of 2

5.District 9
The Second half of my list begins with the film that rejuvenated the summer movie season after the attrocious G.I. Joe. District 9 was a shining reminder of what a summer action film can be if they pay attention to the story first and foremost. District 9 has substance, emotion, logic, action, political allegory... Oh, and aliens. That's more or less the formula for a great movie. Based on the trailers District 9 looked like one of two things. It was either going to be a boring 2 hour fake documentary on the politics of this alien slum, or it was going to be another senseless action riot. Now we can say it was both, minus the boring, and minus the senseless riot. District 9 doesn't have you completely bored with the film until the last 40 minutes of the film. It's controvercial in how the aliens are treated by us humans. Like the movie Avatar, the aliens are at our mercy, but unlike the movie Avatar they are on our turf, and they are the ones with the high tech weapons. When you are frightened into a state in which you are too afraid to use your super-alien-laser-gun that could kill dozens of the people who are abusing you then you know that something is seriously wrong. The thing is that there are a million and a half of them, and we have atomic bombs. Chances are we would probably go that far. Sharlto Copley is the real star of the film as the man in charge of movie the aliens out of District 9 and into a smaller and worse concentration camp at District 10. He really goes through such a change emotionally throughout the film. He is at first apathetic to these prawns and is willing for them to die if necessary, but when he's the one pointing the gun he really sees the injustice of what they are doing. Ultimately we are left with many questions, and the beauty of action films such as this is that they will make a sequel.

4.Star Trek
It's not often in which a film can destroy a planet with 6 billion people on it and still be called optimistic. Thankfully J.J. Abrams walks that fine line between brutality and beauty, and comes back with amazing results. Not only has he revived the long thought dead Star Trek franchise, but he has done so in a way that opens completely new doors for the series. Wisely returning to the team of Kirk and Spock, they start their relationship in a way that one could say isn't really that smooth. However as the fate of the universe is in peril they reconcile their differences in time to take on the bad guys. This film is paced at lightspeed, only yielding for a short venture on an ice planet, in which the film is actually paced like a regular movie, and then is right back to its original pace. The film is so emotional in a way that many action films have forgotten how to be, and the opening sequence offers that with an equal dosage of action, and tension. As somebody who is familiar with the franchise but not an outright fan of it, I was devastated to learn throughout the movie that things weren't happening as they should be and that kept me in my seat. Stupendously they wrap up the film in a way that justifies the previous events of the film, and makes us feel that what we've already seen is nothing compared to what comes next. I dearly hope they are right.

3.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The strange beauty of the Harry Potter films is that they keep getting better, and the sixth film is no exception. Finally the series has learned how to have films that stand on their own, yet integrate flawlessly into the rest of the franchise. After a rocky start, Director David Yates has found his footing. The flaws with the film are flaws not of script, acting, visual effects, cinematography, or direction, but simply things that were present in the original novel. In many ways the film is even better than the book it is based upon. Of course the film isn't exactly the same as the book but if it was there would be even more problems with it. A film needs to function not as a companion to the book, but as its own sort of animal, otherwise it is simply retelling an old story. The attack at the Burrow was one of my favorite scenes in the movie and didn't at all feel like it was shoved in there. Many scenes lead directly into the next scene and it gives the illusion of a faster pace than the past films. It may seem useless and highly unlikely but i'm going to put it out there that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince should be nominated for best picture. It has nearly the same critical status as Avatar, and even better reviews than Invictus. One could easily say that it is a better film than Nine, so I say put it up there as the fantasy film nominated for Best Picture because it rightfully deserves it. It is amazingly emotional, extremely real, and visually magical. However in all likelyhood I'm just talking to nobody, so like Dumbledore at the end, I leave it all to fate.

2.Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino has made his cinematic masterpiece in the form of Inglourious Basterds. Ever since his previous Best Picture nominee Pulp Fiction came out he has brought us many amazing modern cinema classics like Kill Bill and.... the other Kill Bill movie. However now he has taken the best aspects of his past films and blended them into one kick-ass film whose premise is surprisingly simple and easy to remember, a first for Tarantino. This film is a straight story with no real side plots or goals. It is simply about two seperate attempts to kill the Nazi High Command. Most interestingly, the key to the success of the two plans comes in the form of their greatest enemy, Han Landa played in a groundbreaking performance by Christoph Waltz who is destined for an Oscar for his role. Tarantino's goal in this film, unlike most of his other films, is not to kill a ton of people in style. He does that but it's not the main focus of his work. Much of the film exists to create the most extreme tension ever felt in a movie. It's not the loud chaos of the battleground. It's the calm silence before the guns go off. Tarantino drags his scenes out just long enough to create that certain mist of fear, and maybe a little more so. But when the guns go off it is a feat of pure movie magic which Quentin has captured. Several powerful performances can be found in this film, because Quentin isn't really known for having simplistic characters. Avatar would've probably been the best movie ever if it were written by Tarantino.

Yeah, there's still more. I'll be back tomorrow with my best film of the year. I'll give you a hint. It begins with a U.

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Top Ten Films of 2009! Part 1 of 2

Merry Christmas to all of my 3 followers. Sorry I haven't been posting lately. I've pretty much been taking my holiday vacation early. I could go on about how awesome yet unoriginal Avatar was, or how the recent precursors have pitted Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker at each other's throats for best picture, or the emergence of Fantastic Mr. Fox as a possible upset to Pixar's winning streak, but I'm not here for that. I just want to give my top films of the year before the year is over so here is goes. (Keep in mind this is only the films I've seen so far. I haven't seen Precious, or Up in the Air, or Invictus, or A Serious Man, or Nine, so relax. I'm not hating on any of them, yet.)

10.Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

You may be doing a double take on this, or reuploading the page because there's got to be some sort of mistake, but alas no, you are not misreading this. I've got this in my top ten simply because it was one of the most enjoyable movies of the year. Personally I did not enjoy the first Transformers movie. I found the humor just distracting and it had so much promise to being on a level of epic. I came down from those delusions quickly. After seeing the first trailer for this film I didn't think it was going to suck. I knew it was going to suck. I was in the point of mind where there was nothing that could redeem it for me. But something did. Michael Bay successfully parodied his own film without getting rid of the key things that will get an audience for the film. It was everything I wanted from a dumb action film, and nothing that I didn't want from a dumb action film. They stuffed in a whole lot of sexual innuendos, and drug references that I just couldn't stop laughing, and the action was just amazing. I didn't see it on an Imax screen but I kind of wish I had because it would've been simply majestic. This was possibly the second best Live-Action comedy of the year. It didn't take itself too seriously, and it knew what it was trying to be. If you are a member of the 1% of America who didn't see this movie, you just gotta see it.

9.Where the Wild Things Are
I didn't know how Spike Jonze was going to pull this off but he did. He made a film that maintained the spirt of the beloved childrens book and actually captured the raw spirit of childhood. It wasn't all happy-go-lucky like Shorts. It was a portrait of what it was like when we were kids. It's still the real world that we live in, but it inserts a few fantasy elements into it and sees how they stand up in our world. The acting is simply superb, and thanks to Jonze's use of live puppets there isn't a moment when the wild things don't feel real, so in total you actually feel and empathize with these characters. Max is the center of this fantasy world, and he is somebody who you feel sorry for throughout this entire film and you are genuinely concerned for his life in certain parts of this film. The fact that a childrens film can still do that in this day and age is amazing and I hope it's something that stays with us.

8.Drag Me to Hell
This spot could've gone to Paranormal Activity, which was very creepy and did successfully make you think twice about going to sleep that night, but Drag Me to Hell was just so much more than that. Sam Raimi showed us once more that he can indeed still make a good and scary movie. The cheesy effects don't hinder the film at all. In fact they somewhat heighten the experience. This film is campy, funny, and frightening and can definitely make you reconsider ever doing anything mean ever again. This is the type of film that I think should be required viewing for kids in Christian Elementary Schools, because after seeing it they will never want to sin ever again. This is the type of film that if fed to people at a young age, could bring the world to its knees. Christianity would easily be able to enslave the world with this movie. That is how effective it is. But don't take this to mean that you should in any way take this film seriously. To say that this film is or will ever be serious is to say that Terri Schuester on GLEE ever had a baby inside her. The beauty of this film is that it isn't a film that you are too afraid to see. It's a film that's so scary that you have to see it and you can make it through the entire film because of all the humour in it. At it's best times it is hillarious and scary at the same time, and that is something it should be applauded for.

Just when we thought the zombie genre had been drained of all its originality... well it wasn't, and it's safe to say that it still isn't and there is room for more. Where Drag Me to Hell went more of the Horror route, Zombieland goes for comedy while laying in a few scares amongst them. The script isn't what makes it amazing. The script could so easily have been coal, but the four main actors of the film (and the celebrity cameo obviously) do a genuine jesus-christ miracle and turn it into gold. Woody Harrelson especially is worthy of praise for his work here. He came in very late in the year but has been continually wowing us with his performances, even in such trash as 2012, or such art-house works as The Messenger. First time director Ruben Fleischer seems to understand this script all the way through to its core and knows just the right nerves to hit. The comedy, the horror, and the emotion shine through the screen. He sets up a family who we really will follow wherever they go. The fact that the finale begins and ends just as you'd expect, and keeps us interested all the way through is proof of that. With a sequel slowly underway, being filmed in 3D, I think this is just a taste of what we can expect from the future.

6.The Hangover

Capping off the first half of my list is the best live-action comedy of the year, The Hangover. Unlike the other notable comedies I've mentioned, The Hangover's single genre is comedy and it isn't trying to be anything else. Every single plot string has a place in the story and every loose end is tied up in the quick 100 minute running time. Zach Galafinakis is the true catalyst for most of the zany mishaps the characters find themselves in, and he is so childish that you cannot help falling in love with him. He has the best intentions, and if everything went as planned... well lets just say the film wouldn't have grossed over $300 million. The laughs are thrown in at 5 per minute, and you leave the theatre more than fully satisfied. Somehow the film finds a narrative ground that not only works, but exceeds expectations. There are enough WTF moments to kill thousands of old people with poor health problems. I could go on about this film but it really is a simple premise executed perfectly. This film makes final proof that R-rated comedies are indeed the most profitable.

Expect the second half of this list within the next week.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visual Effects Shortlist Announced

A good 15 films have been shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, so now seems to be an appopriate time to do my ranking of them as far as their likelihood in getting nominated.

My Nominations
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Almost In
Terminator Salvation
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Not a Chance
Sherlock Holmes
Where the Wild Things Are
Angels & Demons
Disney's A Christmas Carol
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Revised List of Best Picture Nominees

Okay so over the past several weeks there have been many changes to peoples Best Picture Nominees list in accordance with the onslaught of negative reviews spinning their way out. It now seems so much less likely that Invictus, or A Single Man will get nominated, and even less likely for films that were considered to be definitely nominated like The Lovely Bones, or Nine. Given that the films that still deserve to be on my Best Picture list are as follows:

-An Education
-The Hurt Locker
-Inglourious Basterds
-Up in the Air

That now leaves 4 slots on the list that still need to be filled, thanks to the academy increasing the number of nominees to ten. First of all I've decided to give in to the pressure and add A Serious Man to the list, seeing as it is now one of the best of the year, but still unlikely to take home many awards. And now seems like an appropriate time to add Star Trek to the list because it is frankly too good to pass up. With two slots left I've got to add in Avatar for now, because even though no good reviews have surfaced, no bad reviews have surfaced either, and that cloud of mystery is at the moment its greatest weapon. And now with one slot left it feels only right to put in yet another film about aliens, District 9 which despite its flaws is still an original action film with a unique form of storytelling. So below are the films that have been newly added to the list.

-District 9
-A Serious Man
-Star Trek

Monday, December 7, 2009

Washington D.C Critics Awards Announced

The second big precursor this year has arrived and given us a little more insight to what we can expect this awards season. Up in the Air is definitely gaining speed in all categories, but Precious seems to be the film that is recieving the backlash this year. Inglourious Basterds brought in quite a few awards, and it seems like it will definitely be on the list of Best Picture nominations this year, making it Quentin Tarantinos first best picture nomination since Pulp Fiction. The only big question mark on the awards bullitan remains Avatar, which still has yet to be showed to critics.

Best Film: Up in the Air
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: George Clooney for Up in the Air
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan for An Education
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique for Precious
Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
Best Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds
Best Breakthrough Performance: Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Best Ensemble Cast: The Hurt Locker
Best Animated Film: Up
Best Foreign Film: Sin Nombre
Best Documentary: Food, Inc.
Best Art Direction: Nine

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Dark Knight's Revenge

This is just something that I've noticed this year. Last year The Dark Knight kept gaining buzz toward getting nominated for best picture. It wasn't, so now I keep noticing how all of these supposed art-house Oscar films keep on falling by the waistside, leaving room open for films like Up, Inglourious Basterds, Avatar (Assuming it's not a total 3D shitstorm, which would still be worth the price of admission), and perhaps even Star Trek. At this time, Chris Nolan is preening with his rightly deserved vengence(ish).

Friday, December 4, 2009

News Update: Nine is mixed, Avatar is gaining speed, and Harry Potter 7 teaser debuts(ish)

-Reviews have come in for Nine, and it looks like it's not going to be the Oscar winner it was thought to have been a year ago. Rob Marshall seems to have hit far off from his last effort Chicago. While the critics say it is beautiful looking, they say its actors are not properly used, and that the story is just mashed together with barely relevent songs that aren't able to achieve emotional resonance. Now with Nine, and Lovely Bones getting mixed reviews, and Invictus getting good but not necessarily great reviews it looks like there is room open for crowd favorite films like Up, Star Trek, and Inglourious Basterds to come in and steal the gold.

-Speaking of such big films, as James Camerons mega-epic Avatar has been slowly approaching the response has been getting better and better. With some convincing Featurettes they have eased our fears of it being just a silly animated film, by explaining the concept of motion capture to the 60% of the world who are extremely stupid, and with some minute and a half clips we can now actually buy into these characters. Once reviews start coming out we will get a good grasp on how things have been handled. Also the theme song for the film I See You sung by Leona Lewis has made it to youtube so take a look at that. To me it seems just a heartbeat away from My Heart Will Go On but it stays of rhythm just enough to keep it fresh.

-The National Board of Review has announced its winners and a couple of notable points are the absense of Nine and The Lovely Bones, reaffirming that it's probably not happening for those films. The biggest surprise however is that Precious is gone from the list entirely (Aside from Gabourney Sidibe for Breakthrough Actress). This may be a bad thing for its chances at best picture. Up in the Air came out on top with the best picture prize, putting it in the upper categories for the Oscars. For the full list of winner go here:

-Finally, after all this time we have... 56 seconds of footage from the likely 5 hour final installment in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. How could we live through these long months without this new teaser. It arrived online in bootleg form today, and it will probably be back online in higher definition as soon as it is actually released on the Half-Blood Prince DVD this tuesday. It really looks like quite something and I'm going to go out on a far out limb here and say that it will be the best film in the series, hands down. Can't wait! Look for it on youtube if it's still up there.