November 23, 2013
I knew my experience viewing THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE  could not compare to the incredible one I had watching THE HUNGER GAMES  where I decided to see the movie at the last minute, had only a vague idea of the storyline, had no idea it was a three book story, and no one was seated anyone near me. It was my movie of the year for 2012 by far. In contrast, for CATCHING FIRE I already knew the entire story having read all three books after seeing the first movie, and with the director change and hearing the production was rushed, I was just hoping to like CATCHING FIRE. My expectations were exceeded by far. Of course CATCHING FIRE did not have the impact the original did, but it was very exciting and well done and drew me again into the world of The Hunger Games. [Read more]
July 6, 2013
“Ride or die” is their mantra. They sure lived up to that in FAST & FURIOUS 6  delivering what fans of the franchise, like myself, had long been waiting for, a bigtime sequel with actual car racing in it that kicked ass. The first FF was a very good action movie for car fans, the second was a disaster and amazingly did not kill the franchise, the third was very good, but stands outside the lore of the rest of the series, the fourth was all over the place and the fifth forgot that the cars. FURIOUS 6 gets it all right, as long as you can accept the preposterous and just go along for the ride. [Read more]
February 28, 2013
I did not get my Ten Best Movies of 2012 list out before the Oscars this year, but I had seen all the movies I wanted to before it aired. Of the 9 best picture nominees, I saw 8 choosing not to see LES MISERABLES on purpose. Only three of my top ten movies of 2012 overlapped with best picture nominees. I saw everyone of the movies with best actress nominations and 4 of the 5 for best actor (again save for LES MISERABLES). For best supporting actress 3 of 5 and 5 of 5 for best supporting actor.
In the calendar year 2012 I watched 112 movies total (released in any year) down three from 2011. I felt overall 2012 was way down from 2011 as far as movies that really stood out for me and I had a hard time finding ten movies I actually felt that strongly about. Honorable mention goes to THE GREY which could have made the list.
My Ten Best Movies of 2011
I knew from the very beginning I think of watching THE HUNGER GAMES that it was going to be my favorite movie of 2012. The time in my life, the situation and circumstances leading up to out of the blue going to see the movie, it all added to a movie theater going experience that could not be matched this year and ranks in my top ten all-time movie theater experiences. I did not know much of the story, had no idea it was a trilogy, all I knew is that all but one entering the arena had to die and therefore I never, ever felt more scared, more petrified for a character than I did for Katniss. Few movies have ever had me more emotionally involved from first frame until the very last ending with a haunting original song playing over the credits. I felt my stomach drop when Katniss unceremoniously whooshed up the cylinder into the arena. To be my favorite movie of the year, and really all-time, the emotional reaction to the movie has to be strong, and my reaction to THE HUNGER GAMES was as strong as it gets. I immediately had to go out and read the last two books of the trilogy to learn how the story ends. Also, my adoration of Jennifer Lawrence was solidified from where it began first seeing her in WINTER’S BONE.
Perhaps a Jennifer Lawrence bias is in play here, but she is the star of my two favorite movies of 2012 and deservedly won the best actress award for her performance alongside Bradley Cooper in a very awkward, but in the end very emotionally effective and satisfying dark comedy-drama. The movie felt raw and unflinching and desperate and as it provided healing for its characters, so to did it do so for its viewers.
A great thriller with tremendous suspense over the final act of the movie as everyone tries to just simply make it through an airport and onto a plane for safety. This is an example of how to bring history to life in an entertaining way and one of the few 2012 movies that lived up to its hype for me.
4. END OF WATCH
If you have not seen this movie, go out and see it immediately! It is by far the best sleeper movie of 2012 with an amazing ending that will knock you out. Few police movies, if any, have this level of realism, this level of danger as two cops patrol the streets of L.A. There is a palpable sense of danger throughout the movie and when the viewer finally realizes the absolute danger the two officers find themselves in the end, no punches are held in showing the consequences.
5. CLOUD ATLAS
The best sci-fi fantasy movie of the year and one I had no problem just going with as it told its multi-level, multi-timeline spanning story with reincarnations of characters throughout the ages. The distant past and the future are packed with plot that is as dense as it gets in the beginning of the movie, but the viewer is allowed to digest and see how it all comes together in one grand love story.
SKYFALL was hardcore and unafraid to advance the James Bond franchise past its established holy grails and set it up to be relevant to a modern movie going audience. Even if the characters were anonymous SKYFALL would have stood on its own as an action adventure movie. The set pieces were the best I had seen in a long time. This is a great action movie.
Another hidden gem I had not really heard of before, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER was a fantastic coming of age movie with minimal gimmicks and a great 80s & 90s soundtrack. The story follows a high school freshman in 1992 (the year I actually graduated) as he hangs out with a group of seniors who themselves are misfits. Emma Watson’s performance stands out.
A movie with mature actors performing their craft with fun all with great chemistry between them set in an exotic local. This is definitely a feel-good movie which we need these days more than ever. If you need motivation to go out and see the world, watch this movie and it just may help.
9. LIFE OF PI
I include LIFE OF PI more for its truly stunningly fantastic visuals than for the movie overall which I felt was good, but not great. What helped save it was a twist at the end. However, there is not a big overlying message or emotional impact for most of the movie as I expected. The movie also did not end where I think it should have for maximum effect.
I thought for sure this was going to be my favorite movie of the year as THE DARK KNIGHT is on my all-time top ten list for movies period and was the most hardcore movie I have ever seen. Still, it was a solid conclusion to the best super hero movie trilogy series ever.
July 21, 2012
Unfortunately, I could not help hearing the early negative word about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, yet in my mind even though I heard such things from sources I have regard for, I still felt somehow that they would not be warranted, and they were not. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a very good movie, not a masterpiece, but still a great movie and a very fitting end to the Christopher Nolan directed Batman trilogy.
March 24, 2012
I have never felt more fear for a character than I did for Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES. By the moment she was about to enter the games, I felt petrified for her. Director Gary Ross allows ample, ample time to build up to the games themselves and being totally unfamiliar with the story, I had no idea when that calm before the storm was going to end and all hell would break loose. Likewise, once in hell I did not know how the story would play out and was constantly surprised. THE HUNGER GAMES is riveting and must be seen in a theater, preferably an IMAX theater.
February 26, 2012
Just in time before the Oscar winners are announced later tonight, I have finished watching enough movies so that I am able to pick my Ten Best movies of 2011. I have seen nine of the ten best pictures nominees, and the one I did not see was by choice because I do not believe it to be even worth seeing. Three of my Ten Best Movies of 2011 are nominated for Best Picture.
I have seen all five of the movies with a Best Actor nomination, but only one of the Best Actress. I have seen two of the five Best Foreign Language Film nominees and all ten of the movies nominated for Best Writing Adapted and Original. Finally, I have seen all five movies nominated for Best Director.
In the calendar year of 2011, I watched 115 movies total (released in any year), by far the most movies I have ever watched in a single year.
November 5, 2011
I was jus thinking earlier today, or was it yesterday, that I have not seen a 2011 movie yet of any impact. Impact along the lines of INCEPTION last year or THE DARK KNIGHT or even THE ILLUSIONIST. Then tonight I watched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and 2011 is saved, I have seen at least one masterpiece movie that I will remember for a long time this year. If you have ever been to Paris, as I have, it will make you think you need to go back, soon. If you have never been, and you saw this movie, you are probably already on a plane there. I could not have watched a more appropriate movie for my own current situation right now. Thank you Woody Allen.
September 3, 2011
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES  is a great movie, and the best theater experience since last year’s INCEPTION. APES is a powerful story from opening frame, to closing. It is a very cerebral movie and a positive use of CGI to visually tell a story that would otherwise not be possible. The movie reinforces two of my strongest beliefs: animals should not be experimented on; animals should not be in cages.