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2011: The Year in Movies

I almost forgot to squeeze in my 2011 Year-End post before the Oscar nominations later this morning.  I traditionally wait until this time instead of like December 31 because it gives me time to see a lot of the year-end flicks that often don't open around here until later.  For example just tonight I squeezed in at the last minute a viewing of awards darling The Artist.
Now keep in mind, as I remind people every year, these are based purely on my own personal entertainment value; so, for example, while Fast Five certainly isn't going to win any awards, the fact is I enjoyed the hell out of it. To each his own.  I did keep a list on Flixster of all the 2011 films I saw, but toward the end of the year that site was acting up, so some of them at the end aren't in order, and a few very recent ones aren't on there yet.

Best Movie: Super 8 - it really connected with the 80's kid in me.  I would have liked more of the kids and less sci-fi/creature, but I still really enjoyed it.
Best of the Actual Oscar Contender Films: The Artist, Drive
Worst Movie (that I saw...and only out of morbid curiosity): Bucky Larson - Born to Be a Star
Worst Movies I Didn't Need to See to Know They Sucked: Jack and Jill, Zookeeper, Paranormal Activity 3, Twilight: Breaking Dawn part I, anything by Tyler Perry
Best Sequel: (tie) Fast Five and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Worst Sequel: The Hangover II (or was that a remake?)
Best Remake and Best Guilty Pleasure: Footloose
Best Animated Film: Rango
Best Movie Most of You Never Saw: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
 * others I highly recommend: The People vs George Lucas, Attack the Block, Super, A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy
Weirdest Movie Most of You Never Saw: Rubber (about a killer tire.  Yes, you read that right)
Biggest Surprise: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (who knew?)
Biggest Disappointment: X-Men First Class
Most Underrated: The Change-Up
Most Overrated: X-Men First Class
 * runners-up: Bridesmaids, Moneyball (good movies? sure. Worthy of awards talk? Not at all.)
Breakthrough Performance - male: Joel Courtney (Super 8)
Breakthrough Performance - female: Rooney Mara (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Future Star - male: Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
Future Star - female: Julianne Hough (Footloose)
Baddest M.F.: Dwayne Johnson (Fast Five)
Hardest Working ex-Mousketeer: (tie) Ryan Gosling (Drive, Ides of March, Crazy Stupid Love) and Justin Timberlake (Friends with Benefits, In Time, Bad Teacher)

...I'll be back later this morning with Oscar nom reactions.

The Year in Movies 2012: A Look Ahead

It's New Year's once again, and as I've done for a few years now at this time, it's time for my look ahead to the movies of 2012.  I'm ranking the films best-to-worst on how much I think I will personally enjoy them, based on what I know so far - some I've seen trailers or heard early buzz; others I'm going on nothing more than a synopsis and cast list, so I could very well be way, WAY off.  But that uncertainty is half the fun of making this list.  I find it interesting at the end of the year to see how things compared to my expectations - what lived up to them, what surprised me, and what disappointed.  We'll see at the end of the year how accurate my early assessment was. 
Obviously this list is not comprehensive, as I may have missed some in my quick perusal of various 2012 previews, and others come from out of nowhere, but I've included all I could find.
Here's to another year of fun at the movies!

The LISTCollapse )

p.s. - You'll notice some omissions.  Some, like anything involving Tyler Perry, I just won't be seeing and aren't worth ranking.  Others like the many 3d re-releases (Star Wars Ep 1, Titanic) don't count as new movies to me.

Friends & Neighbors

I can't imagine anyone actually reads my journal anymore. I mean I last posted 5 months ago, and only rarely even before that. Of course, no one else updates theirs either, so it's kind of a graveyard here. The main reason I even still have one is so I don't lose old entries, and because of a couple communities I belong to.

Still, sometimes I have more to say than a couple sentences, which is where this comes in handy where Facebook doesn't. Anyway...

Gwen had a playdate this week. This is the first time she's had someone over to our house, and her first real friend outside of relatives. I wasn't here, but apparently she had a great time. Kathy said her parents were a lot like us as well. Supposedly I have a lot in common with the Dad. Kathy also mentioned they asked about the house that's for sale across the street. ...and that got me thinking...

What if they did move there? Not only would Gwen have her friend close by, but they'd go to the same school again. She'd have someone to play with almost any time. There's a little brother Sam's age, too. We'd have easy, close, and (probably) free babysitters when we needed them (of course we'd reciprocate). What's more is Kathy and I could actually have friends as well. People to do things with; people with similar interests; and for that matter, people in the neighborhood our own age! One thing I've always wished is that I had more friends. Aside from one or two people, I don't have any near me anymore. And we certainly don't have any friend "couples".

...but alas, it won't happen. They were probably just making conversation, or asking for a friend or something. And even if they were interested, the odds they'd move there are slim. But damn, it really made me think - what if we actually had neighbors we were friends with? It would be the first time since... well, EVER!

but enough of my ramblings, just putting thoughts to paper. Well, screen, I guess.

2011 Oscar Nominations: Knee-Jerk Reactions

So the nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced this morning. For the most part no real surprises, but its not without a few glaring snubs and travesties. Here are a few of my immediate thoughts on the list:

  1. No Tangled for Best Animated Film?? It should not only have been nominated, but should have won (Yes, over Toy Story 3, which was an excellent film, but largely just more of the same). I know not everyone loved it quite as much as I did, but it definitely deserves a spot on the short list. But once again the Academy feels it necessary to include a small independent film solely to appease the indie snob crowd who hate anything mainstream. I've seen parts of The Illusionist and it's nothing award-worthy.
  2. Andrew Garfield snubbed for The Social Network - Yes, the film, director, and lead actor Jesse Eisenberg were nominated, but Garfield was really the heart of that movie, and put on (in my opinion) the best performance in the film. Is this some kind of backlash because he's moving on to big-budget summer spectacles with his next role as the new Spider-Man?
  3. ...That being said, I'm glad to see Jeremy Renner in the category for The Town, and though I haven't seen Winter's Bone yet, I've liked John Hawkes in everything I've seen him in, from films like From Dusk Til Dawn and American Gangster to TV like Lost, Deadwood, X-Files, and 24.
  4. Tron Legacy: Was it a great film? No, it had its flaws. But one thing about it was near perfect, and that was Daft Punk's score. How this was not nominated?? I was SO surprised by its absence that I checked to see if perhaps it was for some reason ineligible, but no, it was on the list.
    As for Tron's lack of a Best Visual Effects nomination, I can't say I'm completely surprised, because the Academy has never really liked films that are almost entirely virtual, favoring movies that put effects in the "real" world. But to see Tron left out while the steaming pile of crap that is Alice in Wonderland is nominated is just absurd. Not only does the film stink, but the effects there are pretty bad.
  5. Christopher Nolan overlooked again - Every year there's a movie nominated without its director, and this year it's Inception. Odd, because the direction is actually the strongest part of the film. I could see overlooking the actors, or the overly-complex writing, or effects, but its the directing that really pulled this thing together and made it work.
  6. Black Swan and The Fighter rack up the nominations - No. Just...no. It was completely expected, but that doesn't make it right. Black Swan and director Aronofsky are bafflingly overrated. Portman's performance is the only thing there actually worthy of a nod. The Fighter's cast was strong across the board, but the film itself shouldn't be there.
  7. They should have just skipped the Makeup award this year if that was the best 2010 had to offer.
  8. The Patronizing Best Picture Nominees: The ones that would never have made a five nominee field, have no chance of winning, and are only here to appease the mainstream masses: Inception and Toy Story 3
  9. The only Best Pic contenders I haven't seen yet are Winter's Bone and The Kids Are Alright, and I'll get those in before the ceremony.

The Oscars take place on Sunday, February 27, at 7pm CST.


The Year in Movies: 2010

Tomorrow morning brings this year's Oscar nominations, so as every year on this day, today I present my year-end awards for 2010.
Note: These are based purely on entertainment value, so while for example True Grit may well be a better-made film than The A-Team, the fact is I enjoyed A-Team much more. To each his own.
...and for anyone who has ever accused me of having become a "movie snob," I think this list may serve as evidence to the contrary. Sometimes I do like some of the artsier stuff, and occasionally I'll like something that's completely brainless, but most of my tastes lie somewhere in between - movies that are made to entertain, but without being completely stupid. Anyway, here ya go:

Best Movie: TANGLED
Best Animated Movie: TANGLED
Runners-Up: How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3
Best Live-Action Movie: KICK-ASS
Runners-Up: Social Network, Daybreakers, A-Team, Inception
Best Director: David Fincher - The Social Network
Most Overrated: BLACK SWAN
Honorable Mention: Let Me In, The Fighter
Most Underrated: SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE
Honorable Mention: The A-Team
Worst Film I Saw This Year: COP-OUT
Actual Worst Film of the Year (which I didn't even need to see to know it sucked): PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2
Best Use of 3-D: Tangled, Step Up 3-D (yes, really)
Worst Use of 3-D: Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender, and any other post-converted 3-D movie
Movies That Should Have Sucked But Didn't: Death at a Funeral, MacGruber, Burlesque
Movies That Shouldn't Have Sucked, But Did: Cop-Out, The Tourist, Clash of the Titans
Best Evidence That Disney Animation Is Not Dead: Tangled
Breakthrough Performance - Male: Andrew Garfield (Social Network)
Runner-Up: Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Breakthrough Performance - Female: Emma Stone (Easy A)
Runner-Up: Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass)

For the rest of the films of 2010, click here to see my list of all I've seen, ranked from Best to Worst.

2011: The Year in Movies - A Look Ahead

As I've done for a couple years now, on the eve of the new year I like to predict my rankings for the year ahead. I find it interesting at the end of the year to see how things compared to my expectations - what lived up to them, what surprised me, and what disappointed. So here is how I see 2011 shaping up, best-to-worst, based on my own anticipation and what I know or have seen so far.
Some I'm judging by full trailers, while others I may know nothing more than a basic synopsis and a cast list. I guess that's half the fun of making this list. Info on any of these titles can be found on IMDb.

*This is surely not a comprehensive list, as I'm sure there are films I didn't catch in my quick perusal of various 2010 previews, and often others come from out of nowhere.

The ListCollapse )

Great Way to Start the Week

Kathy shouldn't read this entry. She hates when I'm negative. But some days you can't help but vent.

So after having the car die on me on Friday, dealing with the slowest/worst/least available customer service in the world on Saturday, and sweating like a pig working (and making very little progress) out in the heat Sunday, this week is not starting off any better.

I get the call about my car - $1700 in repairs for a variety of problems. OUCH! Oh, and it won't be done until sometime tomorrow, so now I have to borrow my mom's car to take Gwen to school tomorrow morning.
Then there's this heat. Already 90 degrees again, so doing too much outside is not gonna happen, but since the kids are restless inside and we have no car to go anywhere, I agree to go for a walk on a shadier street in our neighborhood. Get the kids dressed, slathered in sunscreen, prepare everyone some ice water to go, and head out. Oh wait, one stroller is in Mommy's car at work, the other in the car at the repair place. Just walking with a one year-old will mean the slowest, most agonizing walk ever, but fine... I promised them we could go (and we can't just wander the yard - we have no shade whatsoever). Gwen wants to ride her scooter, which is fine; but as expected, both of them slow down dramatically as we walk. I actually end up carrying both Sam and Gwen's scooter the last 1/4 of the way. Yeah, I could make her do it, but we're all really hot by this point, and the last section is all out in the sun. As we get back to our house, I notice oh yeah, I forgot about that section of siding falling off the house, too! Great! Back inside, the doorknob I just replaced isn't working properly and now the laundry room door is stuck shut. So I have to jimmy my way in there (edit: and have since locked myself out of again at least three more times), only to find out the lightbulb in there is burnt out - a minor thing, for sure, but it just may be the straw that pushed the camel to go on a killing spree with an AK-47.

....and I still have loads of yardwork and mowing to do out in the heat after Kathy gets home. This week is starting out AWESOME!!

Worst. Easter Egg Hunt. Ever.

This morning we decided to look for an Easter Egg Hunt to take the kids to (well, mostly Gwen, as Sam's a bit young still). There were a few options, with the main one being some HUGE 50,000 egg thing at a park across town, but we figured that one would be insane with mobs of kids and parents. So we opted instead for a smaller one much closer to us.

Well, it was crowded, but not overly so. But get this: the "Easter Egg Hunt"? It was, quite literally, a 10' x 10' area with about 7 easter baskets sitting out, each filled with eggs. they let the kids in a couple at a time, and each kid was to go grab TWO eggs out of a basket. The most pathetic excuse for an Easter Egg hunt I've ever seen. Hell, there was no "hunt". And TWO eggs? What's the point?

Oh, but it gets better... we moved to the games. One was "Musical Chairs". The kids each start in a chair. The music starts, the kids walk; the music stops, the kids sit down. Then they do it again. After the second time, everyone gets a prize. HUH???!? They never removed a chair, never did anything but walk around in a circle twice. These people didn't even know how to run a game of musical chairs!!! ...and it wasn't just "everyone's a winner", because on our way out we heard one of the organizers telling the girls running it how they are supposed to be doing it. Ugh. We very soon thereafter decided to cut our losses and get out of there.

All in all, a complete waste of our time. (and Sam did NOT want a picture with the Easter Bunny)


Oscar Nominees 2009 - Initial Thoughts

Oscar Nominees announced today. Here's some of my immediate impressions:

1. So the grand experiment of expanding to 10 Best Picture nominees to add more crowd pleasers (and therefore TV ratings) did just that. Unfortunately, as expected, it is painfully obvious which five are the "also-rans" that have no shot whatsoever at winning (I'm looking at you, Blind Side and District 9)

2. That being said, if that was the idea, Star Trek should be on this list (but of course would be in the "back" five)

3. I liked Up in the Air and I like Clooney, but I don't see that as any kind of award-winning performance (likewise to co-stars Farmiga and Kendrick). Though Hurt Locker did not impress me as much as it did many other people, I'd give this one to Jeremy Renner. ...or, if they wanna go with the "career" award, hand it to Jeff Bridges.

4. The one award that is an absolute lock is Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. Well, that and Avatar for Visual Effects. But then, in the past they've made some real head-scratching picks for that one.

5. SO happy to see Clint Eastwood getting "snubbed" for Picture and Director. Haven't seen Invictus, but he deserves to get snubbed after being bafflingly praised for his last several snail-paced suckfests.

6. How Nine got nominated for anything is beyond me.

7. If you're wondering what "The Secret of Kells" is:

I'm in the minority here, but I'd give Animated to Princess and the Frog. Not that it was great, but better than the medocrity that it's up against.

8. Loved Sherlock Holmes' score, but I'd be okay with anything except Fantastic Mr. Fox winning.

9. I would have liked to see (500) Days of Summer get some love, if only for screenplay.

I'm sure I'll have more to say, but gotta save something for Oscar night, no?

March 7. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin host (unfortunately).


The Year in Movies 2009

Oscar nominations come later this morning, and so as I've done in the past, this is my deadline for posting my year-end wrap-up of my personal favorites for the year. If I didn't manage to catch a 2009 flick by now, it probably wasn't going to rank too high anyway.
It may be rather anti-climactic to any of you who visit my Flixster page, as I have been keeping a running list ranking the movies I saw for the year. Still, here's the Top Ten, and a few other comments. Feel free to click on over there to see the full 2009 list or to read individual reviews and such.

Keep in mind that my rankings are based on my own personal enjoyment of the film, so many well-made "Oscar"-type films, good as they may be, often get bumped in favor of more light-hearted films that just entertained me immensely.

1. Star Trek
- Was never big on the original crew, so I never would have expected to have so much fun (Though I would have preferred far less Spock). All credit to Abrams and the cast!
2. Avatar - still not 100% sure where to rank this - I've had it everywhere from #1-#4. Need to see it again.
3. Taken
4. Zombieland
5. Princess and the Frog
6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
7. (500) Days of Summer
8. The Hangover
9. Up in the Air
10. Push

Best Surprise: Zombieland (Runner-Up: The Brothers Bloom)
Most Disappointing: Extract (Runners-up: Sherlock Holmes, Ninja Assassin)
Most Underrated: Pandorum (Runner-Up: Push)
Most Overrated: Paranormal Activity
WORST Movie of 2009: Paranormal Activity