I saw 30% of all the movies released theatrically this year. I say this to put this list into context, and to show my complete lack of any expertise. My three blockbusters did not disappoint: The Avengers is probably the most fun I have ever had at the movies (it was my childhood dreams come true), Prometheus was a visual masterpiece (hopefully Scott will make more genre features), and The Dark Knight Rises was a satisfactory conclusion to Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy. Two other movies that made a ton of money, but got panned by critics were The Amazing Spider-Man, which I think is the second best Spidey movie, and Skyfall, which was so much better than Quantum of Solace, a lot of people dubbed it the greatest Bond movie (it’s actually Casino Royale).
Before I get into the list, I want to drop five comedies that I think you should check out. These movies were not only funny, but had heart and brains:
1. 21 Jump Street – ignore what you think about this from marketing, hilarious.
2. Seven Psychopaths – Absolutely hysterical, plus it has the best cast of any movie this year.
3. Sleepwalk With Me – An unexpected journey into the brilliant mind of Mike Birbiglia.
4. Safety Not Guaranteed – Almost made the Top 5 list. Science Fiction, Comedy, Romance, plus a “wam-bang finish”
5. This is 40 – I love Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Apatow knows how to make an awkward moment super funny.
Now, the list. Remember, these are my favorite. They are not necessarily the best.
5. Looper – Rian Johnson is a magnificent storyteller. This movie was ambitious as it was inventive. It had a very realistic impression that made it easy to ignore some of the plot holes. I am partial to Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. The three of them were great in this movie about choices, time travel, and love. While I did not like it as much as Brick, it made me think and left an impact on me. I am eagerly anticipating revisiting this film and hope that Johnson makes more in the genre.
4. The Cabin in the Woods – This “genre-bender” was so unexpected; I didn’t even get to see it in theaters. Luckily I went in without knowing much about it. That is the way to see this movie. If you don’t like horror, fine, this is not a horror. Just a great movie that is fun, and interesting, and does not fit into any stereotype of any characters or plots. Joss Whedon’s finger prints are all over this. I guarantee this will become a yearly viewing every October.
3. Django Unchained – The older Tarantino gets, the less he embellishes himself in his movies. Both Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are perfectly executed. Django was well-paced, fun, violent, and was a great “western”. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz had a chemistry that oozed off the screen and the show was stolen by Leonardo DiCaprio’s psychotic villain. While I do not believe that Reservoir Dogs has stood the test of time, I believe this movie shows that QT has fully matured and become a completely realized and capable director and writer. I want to see more and more.
2. Cloud Atlas – This is a movie that I ear-marked as “suspicious”. I was interested in seeing the latest from The Matrix creators, The Wachowskis. The first trailers looked kind of cool, and the closer the release date got, the less interested I became. Then I saw the movie and was not immediately moved. It was not until the second viewing that I started analyzing and thinking and feeling what the movie was about. This is a movie to be experienced multiple times, each time learning more about yourself and the story. The visuals were unsurprisingly stunning, the score was fantastic, and the acting was superb. This is one of the most ambitious movies ever made, therefore it has imperfections. But there are so many layers and emotions to be uncovered in this film, that the journey is the most important thing. It delivers beyond hope in that regard. This movie can change the way you look at big budget studio films.
1. Moonrise Kingdom – I have been a vocal supporter of Wes Anderson since I saw Rushmore. I love every one of his movies; this may make me extremely biased. I love The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited more than The Royal Tenenbaums. This may make me a “hipster” and it most definitely makes me a blind supporter. I do not care; Moonrise Kingdom was such an amazing movie! It had that awesome 60s atmosphere with the best cast Anderson has put together yet. It was about children, without watering them down and making them “cute”. It had depth and meaning and if you cannot relate to any of the characters, you probably don’t have a soul. I am not quite ready for this to dethrone Rushmore as my favorite Wes Anderson film, but it is close.
You may be asking where Lincoln and The Master fit. They don’t. I thought Lincoln was really interesting, but we all knew how it was going to end, and it felt like a History Channel special. I had extremely high hopes for The Master; I really liked all of P.T. Anderson’s previous films. I think There Will Be Blood is one of the best movies ever made, it had emotional weight. The Master was interesting, and the actors were phenomenal, but I never felt strong emotions about the characters or the story. This may be a fault of mine and not the director.
I also hated Killing Them Softly. Brad Pitt was good, but the movie was bland and nearly put me to sleep.
Chronicle – out of left field! Great movie.
Dredd – one of the best pure and brutal action movies made in a long time. Inspired by, but not too much like The Raid.
The Comedy – not a true comedy, but Tim and Eric are brilliant.
Other movies I liked:
Zero Dark Thirty, Holy Motors, Argo, Ruby Sparks, Flight, The Grey, Your Sister’s Sister, Lawless, Life of Pi.
Black Christmas (1974)
“The original slasher film and still one of the most satisfying.”
Blood Creek (2009)
“Fassbender, Cavill, Nazis, the occult, gore, awesomeness.”
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
“Not only a great genre flick, but one of the best movies of the year!”
Dead Alive (1992)
“Peter Jackson came onto the scene is a blaze of blood, guts, and ridiculousness.”
Dead Girl (2009)
“An unexpected gem and a truly disturbing look into the teenage male psyche.”
Dead Ringers (1988)
“Wikipedia lied…not a horror…but still creepy Cronenberg.”
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
“Sam Raimi’s return to the genre and it’s great!”
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
“Incredible, but I still prefer The Evil Dead.”
“80s comedy at its best, Bill Murray is a god.”
“Defined a genre and set the bar to almost unreachable heights.”
Halloween 2 (1981)
“Hands down, one of the best slasher sequels ever made!”
“Introduced a generation to absolute terror and the makeup is fantastic!”
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)
“Picks up where the first left off, then adds amazing lore!”
Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992)
“Kind of a cheesy revisit to a dying franchise.”
Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)
“Science fiction meets historical fiction, and they make an okay movie with some cool special effects.”
Haute Tension [High Tension] (2003)
“French slasher with great murder sequences, but a plot twist full of holes.”
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
“Absurd rape horror that almost makes you laugh, not good.”
Kill List (2011)
“A pretty good movie, but not ‘the scariest movie of the year’ as advertised.”
Lawnmower man (1992)
“The idea still stands up, somewhat, even if the technology doesn’t.”
“A wonderfully minimalist Faustian tale that took me completely by surprise.”
“King, Goldman, Reiner, Caan, Bates, perfectly unsettling!”
“An alright story completely redeemed by the acting of Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid.”
Silver Bullet (1985)
“Worst Stephen King adaptation ever, and Gary Busy has always been a nutjob.”
“Not as great as everyone said back then, no wonder it never gained cult status.”
The Collector (2009)
“Better than every mainstream horror of the last 3 years, find and watch this movie!”
The Dead Zone (1983)
“This creepy adaption of King, is one of the best, plus… the scissors!”
The Faculty (1998)
“Without a doubt the best of the late 90s teen horror movies!”
The Shining (1980)
The Strangers (2008)
“The first 40 minutes are the most stressful of my life, the end left something to be desired.”
“Somewhat inventive with some great moments, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Wolf creek (2005)
“Not sure about the hype. it just didn’t have any effect on me…at all.”
This is a little late, and for good reason. I really wanted to let the movie marinate with me and also let all the negative reviews fester a little.
John Carter tells the story of an ex-Confederate captain in the late 1800s who is transported to mars and becomes the savior of the red planet. May not sound super interesting, but keep in mind the book was written in 1912! Edgar Rice Burroughs, of Tarzan fame, was the prolific author of A Princess of Mars, which is what the film is based on. In most cases I am very loyal to the books and find them almost always better. In the 1930s, the first film adaptation for John Carter came up, and Burroughs actually suggested giving a new or revised story because it would need to resonate with new audiences. Therefore, 99% of the changes were fine by me.
I am not going to try and argue with the critics here, I know more about John Carter then them. Also, I feel like a lot of them have forgotten how to have fun at the movies. This movie was the most fun I have had at the movies in a while. The movie packs in action and story and technology and back story and so on. What’s interesting is that the book hardly explains any of that. This isn’t Lord of the Rings or Dune where there is this rich depth of detail and landscape. Mars is a wasteland and the technology works because it isn’t earth, the movie answers to the modern need to have things explained.
People need to think of this as big picture. This is the first story in a long line of tales. You meet the characters here; learn a little bit about them. You need at least one other movie before you really feel the love and romance of John and Dejah Thoris. You need another film to realize the warrior-brother bound of John and Tars Tarkus. This could have been a three hour movie, easy. It wasn’t for good reason.
Andrew Stanton of Pixar loved these books and had a passion for the story. I think it shows and that’s what makes this movie so charming and loveable. You get top rate special effects, great acting, witty dialogue, guys and girls with little clothing; you also get Woola, the Martian dog that had to inspire R2-D2 and Chewbacca. It literally has something for everyone. I know that is really cliché, but it is absolutely true.
The books are the perfect romance novel guys, John’s only motivation is the girl. In the movie he actually had more depth and it makes him more interesting. You still get a scene where he is swinging his sword and mauling hundreds of Warhoon Tharks with their blue bloodied bodies piling up around him, but then you get him kissing a princess. So cool!
I think this is the best live action Disney movie I have seen since 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I don’t care how much it; I don’t care how much it makes. It was a movie that reminded me of why I love the cinema.
I love the Oscars, I hate the Oscars. It is like the Super Bowl at my house. I come back every year and dig in deep and see as many of the films as I can, that is the great part; expanding my mind through the education of a wide range of films. The thing I hate is the stupidity of the Academy and its predictable and political motives. I can get over it easy, because I love films, actors, writers, set designers, etc., etc.
This year I am taking a different approach. Instead of actually predicting who I think will win, I will just tell you my choice in these selected categories. I am typically 50% wrong, it is not because I do not know what I am talking about, it is because I cannot set aside my personal taste and preference when it comes to these “art” films.
Also, follow me on twitter @jwfyler as I “live-tweet” the show. Because you really care about my opinion. I will try to be funny, I make no promises.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I am not exactly sure how they actually choose the winner in this category. Of the five, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had the best mix of all the sounds in it. Haha.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
This is the only thing that Drive is nominated for, thus, it should win.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Rise of the Planet of the Apes did a great honor to the original movies by keeping the same level excellence. CG, backgrounds, all of it was fantastic.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
David Fincher’s team knows how to pace a movie, editing is the key to his success. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are true wizards.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady
Old ladies, women as men, done before. I think this category is a joke this year. The original Planet of the Apes should just hold this honor for all time.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Midnight in Paris
More so than the other films on the list, it felt exactly like the time period. Not just as a movie, but the atmosphere, acting, and color were all perfect.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
Back to Fincher’s team. Angles, speed, focus, these things matter more than people ever realize. Jeff Cronenweth started with Fight Club and has kept that level of greatness in all his work.
I hate the Jane Eyre story, it is so boring. I find that I am of a small percentage here. The film did have great casting and costumes. A classic British tale, it is kind of a shoe in. Michael O’Connor has already won for The Duchess.
Foreign Language Film
Sadly, this is the only one I have any experience with. I make a promise do to better in this category next year.
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Again, the only one that I actually saw. It was so good though. The story of the Memphis Three, this film is one of three that have been a major factor in bringing this case to light across the whole country.
Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Down year for animation. A Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp film has the best shot in a year when Pixar put out a turd.
Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Williams holds the record for most Academy Awards nominations of any living person. He has two in the fight, and I preferred War Horse. This is a situation where I cannot set aside body of work.
Music (Original Song)
Man or Muppet
Real in Rio
Only two nominated. Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Concords fame, wrote a song worthy of The Muppets I grew up with.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I have not read the original material, but of these five films, The Descendants felt the most honest and real. It was an interesting family tail that had depth without being too depressing.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen either nails it, or bores me with the same old game. Midnight in Paris was funny, witty, and not over the top. Plus I love the 20s.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Berenice Bejo: The Artist
Jessica Chastain: The Help
Melissa McCarthy: Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer: Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer: The Help
No stand outs here, in my opinion. That said, Octavia stole the show in The Help and I really hope she wins.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh: My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill: Moneyball
Nick Nolte: Warrior
Christopher Plummer: Beginners
Max von Sydow: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
This is really tough. Nick Nolte gave his best performance since Blue Chips and I have a soft spot for Christopher Plummer (General Chang). My final decision came down to the fact the Plummer played more out of his element and was marvelous. Nolte was extremely believable, but not an unexpected role.
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close: Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis: The Help
Rooney Mara: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams: My Week with Marilyn
Another hard one. Rooney Mara took over a role that was done very well by Noomi Rapace, but she did it all better. She was brutal, mean, sexy, vulnerable, all the stuff the Academy looks for. Michelle Williams was the perfect Marilyn Monroe, which is a great feat. I loathe Meryl Streep and Glenn Close; they very seldom evoke any emotion in me. I will call a tie between Williams and Mara, loved them both…Oh, I can’t do that? Ok, Michelle Williams, there.
Actor in a Leading Role
Demian Bichir: A Better Life
George Clooney: The Descendants
Jean Dujardin: The Artist
Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt: Moneyball
Most of the time the person who wins this category is an anti-hero of sorts, or an addict, or dying, etc. George Clooney showed me his great acting talent by pulling off a completely normal and real human being in a somewhat unusual circumstance. When I “buy” an actor, is when I no longer see that person, and I can imagine it would be hard to fully commit to someone who has no great conflict, disease, or war and completely “sell” it.
That being said, I think Michael Fassbender should have been nominated for Shame, and should win. He did four movies this year; his body of work is incomparable this year. I know, “the Oscar’s aren’t about body of work”. Really? Scorsese won for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or Goodfellas?
Someone else who had a great body of work this year was Ryan Gosling, three great films. Drive is crazy-awesome.
The Artist: Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants: Alexander Payne
Hugo: Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen
The Tree of Life: Terrance Malick
I think this was the best movie of the year, and in turn Martin Scorsese the best director. Malick’s The Tree of Life was too much of an art piece for me to think that he/it was the best. The other three are on the next level of good.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
The most heart, the most interesting, and the most entertaining. A great film about a boy who has fallen in love with film and technology before Hollywood and before computers and smart phones controlled our lives. The awe and wonder of this film struck a chord because I remember falling in love with motion pictures at a young age. I related to this film, thus my choice for Best Picture.
I know it is almost March, but the last two months have not been noteworthy. This list is based on release date, not excitement level for the film. I will also break the normal routine and add some honorable mentions.
Project X – 3/2
John Carter – 3/9
The Hunger Games- 3/25
The Cabin in the Woods – 4/13
The Avengers – 5/4
The Dictator – 5/11
Brave – 6/22
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – 6/22
G.I. Joe: Retaliation – 6/29
The Amazing Spider-Man – 7/3
The Dark Knight Rises – 7/20
Total Recall – 8/3
The Bourne Legacy – 8/3
Looper – 9/28
Skyfall – 11/9
Gravity – 11/21
Les Miserable – 12/7
World War Z – 12/12
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 12/14
Cosmopolis – TBA
Seven Psychopaths – TBA
5. The Master – TBA – Directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern. Loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and the creation of Scientology
4. Moonrise Kingdom – 5/25 – Directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Starring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Francis McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman. Anderson bias, summer camp, and kids in love.
3. Prometheus – 6/8 – Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron. Ridley Scott doing science fiction in the same universe as “Alien”.
2. The Great Gatsby – 12/25 – Based on the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgarton and Tobey Maguire. One of my favorite books, a great director, and maybe the best character fit for DiCaprio.
1. Django Unchained – 12/25 – Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz. Tarantino doing a post-Civil War Western.
If only half of these are as good as I am expecting, then it will be a fantastic year in movies!
Over 250 films are released in the average year. I do not get to see even half of them. That being said, I saw a lot of movies this year. Marvel literally exploded, David Fincher continues to put out great products, and Woody Allen won me over again. Some of my favorite filmmakers did not contribute to this year, so for me it was a bit of a down year. Down in that there were only about 20 films that I really liked. Of those 20 or so, these are my favorites:
5. X-Men: First Class – this is what an X-Men movie should look like. Thanks to Bryan Singer’s vision and his involvement in this picture, I believe we have come full circle since the 2000 cinematic super hero explosion. Singer produced and Matthew Vaughn directed this long delayed, much changed, rushed version of the beginning of the X-Men universe. Vaughn’s follow up to Kick-Ass, this film marks his first attempt and big time Hollywood blockbuster. Taking place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet, become friends, and introduce the world to mutants. It was executed perfectly, mainly because the casting was so fantastic. Fassbender as Magneto was inspired casting in the class of Patrick Stewart, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger. This movie is cool, historical, fun, and makes you feel something other than just visual stimulation. It makes me excited to see what will happen next with my favorite super hero franchise.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- This did not originally make the list. It was because I wanted to avoid comparison with the original and the source material, plus I always put Fincher in my Top 5. After a second viewing, I knew that I enjoyed it so much; I could not leave it off the list. This mystery-thriller that takes place in Sweden is a return to form for David Fincher. Think back to his 90s films that were edgy, witty, and unapologetic. Se7en, The Game, Fight Club; these films caused some outcry about desensitization and the current state of movies. This film is dark, depressing, exciting, and has the perfect amount of Fincher charm. A story about a washed up journalist who is trying to solve an old case, then gets mixed up with a girl with a shady past and together they uncover years of deception, hatred, and cruelty. Rooney Mara is someone to watch in the future, I have been cheering since her small role in 2010’s The Social Network, also a David Fincher movie. Though not an original piece of work, this movie was great and, I think, better than the Swedish version. Nice to see that Fincher still has the Indie chops after a decade of Zodiac, Benjamin Button, and The Social Network. Plus the opening credits are really cool.
3. Drive- This was the most unexpected film of the year. Ryan Gosling is usually pretty good, I do not flock to his movies the way some people (read: critics and girls) do. But, this film was masterful on his part. He is a reserved individual with a great talent for driving for whoever offers him work. He has a moral code that keeps him alive. When he breaks that code and falls for a girl, trouble follows. This movie has a great soundtrack, style, atmosphere, acting, etc. etc. Just a great piece of realism and understatement. If you like the grand theft auto games, if you like Gosling, if you like mob movies, or you just like good movies; check it out.
2. Midnight in Paris- A somewhat unexpected addition to the list. I like Woody Allen films, but I don’t typically love them. Annie Hall is good, Scoop is great, and there are a couple in between. Then there are the bad ones too. I will leave my opinions on those as to let you decide how you like your Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris is a great one. Owen Wilson is back to his element of being a little self-deprecating and witty as opposed to boyish and charming. I like Wilson like this, let Luke be the good looking one. Only a few movies make me want to see Paris, 2 are on this list. The more I think about it though; it is not modern Paris, but the pre-WWII France that I desire. Much like Owen Wilson’s character, I love the 1920s. Hemingway, Dali, and probably my favorite, Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby was the start of obsession with the roaring 20s. The cast is great fun and well put together in small and large roles a like. I think Woody Allen is at his best when adding a little fantasy and philosophy to his films, so much as to avoid some of his neurotic overplaying of relationships. This is solid romantic comedy with an original take and lighthearted attitude.
1. Hugo- I was able to avoid seeing this in 3D, I believe that made all the difference. There is so much to say about this film, but I will edit myself. It takes place in 1931 and primarily in a train station. A story of a boy who has lost his father and whose imagination sets him on a journey that is not at all self-serving. That is a great delight in modern cinema, a hero who in the end helps someone else more than he helps himself. Set in Paris after the first war, the depth and atmosphere that Martin Scorsese creates is fantastic and shows his love of film history. I am no scholar of film, but I know the story of Georges Méliès and fell in love with the pictures from A Trip to the Moon in collage. This is the best PG movie I have seen that was not Pixar in a long time. It captures to the wonder of motion pictures and the purity of children who experience them, not just view them. The only other film that I have seen that balances childhood, adventure, and a history of film so well is Cinema Paradiso. Movies do not have to be gimmicks and mindless entertainment; they can mean something and speak to our inner adventurer who we have hidden since we “grew up”. This will be a film that I will revisit throughout the years.
Another year done with movies and I feel I fall further and further behind, I saw what I could and enjoyed myself immensely.
I am a big fan of animated feature films. I would say that animated films are the reason that I love the medium today. I grew up watching Disney’s Robin Hood, The Hobbit, and An American Tail. These and many others set my on the path to become the film-loving man I am today.
The myths and legends are told through animated films. Modern storytelling to children is done through movies like the Secret of Nimh and Sleeping Beauty. Fortunately cartoon movies have grown and evolved, they have surpassed many of the live action features that come out today. Studios like Disney, Dreamworks, and Studio Ghibli have made a library of continually quality films.
Here are my top five favorites, they may not be the best, but I enjoy them the most.
5. Titan A.E. – A science fiction adventure story in the class of Star Wars, Titan AE tells the story of a reluctant hero who must save what is left of the human race after the destruction of earth. The animation, story, and characters are perfectly positioned for any kid or adult who loves sci-fi epics. The voice cast includes Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, and John Leguizamo. This movie plays out as a heartfelt, action-packed story of love, betrayal, and the human spirit.
4. The Iron Giant – The last great hand-drawn American feature is The Iron Giant. Set in the 1950s amongst beatniks and the red scare, there is a story of an alien robot who crash lands in small town USA. A little boy befriends the robot that has been damaged and is activated as a weapon when attacked by the military. The boy and his family must save the robot and help bring understanding to the community. This story resembles classics like E.T. and Close Encounters, adults do not understand how to interact with aliens, little boys who watch sci-fi television do. The voice talents in this movie include Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. Brad Bird is the directing force behind this simple wonder.
3. The Incredibles – Another Brad Bird directed film, this one with the power of Pixar behind it, The Incredibles takes everything Stan Lee created with Fantastic Four and improved upon it. The story of a family of superheroes that must fight an egotistical villain, it is perfect. It is funny, exciting, and it’s about protecting the people around you by being honest with yourself. I grew up watching comic book based cartoons and am very familiar with Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the like, this movie is a wonderful depiction of that world. Great for children and adults, The Incredibles is a must see. The voice cast includes Craig T. Nelson, Jason Lee, and Holly Hunter.
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Myazaki. In my opinion, the greatest animator of all time, he even surpasses Walt Disney. He has created such classics as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo. This is my favorite of his films. It is about a girl who is transformed into an old hag by an evil witch, the girl then stumbles upon the mysterious wizard Howl and his fire demon Calcifer. They must combine their forces to defeat a growing evil. The thing this movie has more then any other animated feature I have seen is the deep fantasy that expects you to accept everything you see without asking questions. You sit in wonder as this masterpiece unfolds before you. The English dubbed version is voiced by Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Blyth Danner, and Billy Crystal as Calcifer. See this if you have the chance, but at least go add Ponyo to your Netflix instant queue.
1. Toy Story – This is the most sentimental of all the movies on this list. I hold it dear because I was Andy. I had a Wolverine action figure and a Luke Skywalker action figure that were my favorites, they are worn out and heavily used, but I still have them in the attic. I was 8 when I saw Toy Story in theaters and I remember being in awe, not just of the animation and the jokes, but of the entire story and real it felt to me. The journey of rivals becoming friends and discovering themselves in order to return their owner. John Lasseter developed the original story for The Brave Little Toaster and that eventually grew into what would become Toy Story. Pixar blasted onto the scene with a smash hit that set the bar extremely high for animated features to come, they have yet to disappoint. I plan on getting down my box of action figures soon, but for now my son is content wearing his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and being completely obsessed with all three Toy Story movies. The incredible voice cast for Toy Story includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Jim Varney.
Next Top 5 – Appreciating the Unappreciated: Top 5 Directors who have never won an Academy Award.
Has anyone else noticed they do not make PG comedies anymore? (I mean for adults). I am watching one of my favorite Bill Murray movies, directed my Harold Ramis, and as I always do, I check the MPAA rating. I was kind of surprised and then disappointed. I was surprised to see that Groundhog Day was only rated PG. I was not shocked because there is adult content like language, sex, and violence, because there is very little in this movie. I just figured it was PG-13. Do the math, Ramis plus Murray plus the typical comedies I like and most adults for that matter. I have very little problem with the ratings system other than its inconsistency, but that’s a whole other story. I was depressed when I realized they don’t make comedies like this anymore. This is sad! I do not necessarily blame studios or the press, I blame the consumer. I movie like this isn’t made because it will not make money, that’s a deep barrel friends.
I thought hard of some other PG comedies that are often overlooked and most definitely extinct. Two that immediately came to mind were What About Bob? (1991) and Houseguest (1995). These are all three movies that I was able to watch as a kid and helped shape my love of the comedy genre. What About Bob again stars Murray alongside the amazing Richard Dreyfuss and is about a lunatic who follows his therapist on vacation, it is hilarious! Houseguest stars Sinbad as a loser who cons Phil Hartman and his family into letting him stay with them until they both realize they all actually need each other. These may sound boring, but I stand firmly behind them.
Do not misunderstand me, I love raunchy, foul comedy that involves cheap and crude humor. This is not about any issue I have with modern comedies, far from it. I just find it sad that we have lost a dimension of filmmaking that I hold so dear to myself.
Of these three Groundhog Day is the best, it has many aspects of what the main character goes through. He goes from being inconvenienced jerk, to annoyed with the universe suicidal maniac, to caring for an elderly homeless guy, to the ultimate George Bailey. Bill Murray uses his greatest talent. He is a terrible person who you cheer relentlessly for the entire movie.
Maybe I am just partial to Bill Murray, but I just think the modern comedy relies too heavily on the crutch of edginess. I strongly suggest these films and will continue to think of them fondly.