Monday, January 28, 2013

New Home Movie Releases 1/29/13

A few big releases this week and a couple of nice box sets.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oscar Update 1/27/13

Both the PGA (Producers Guild of America) and the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards were this weekend and have produced some clear frontrunners in the Oscar race. 

Since the actors branch at the Academy is the largest voting block their choices really help put in perspective who will win.  So, let’s start with the givens.  After pretty much winning everything they have been nominated for Daniel Day-Lewis and Ann Hathaway will win Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.  Either one of them losing would be a big upset. 

For Best Actress there has been a two person race between Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Lining’s Playbook and Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.  After an initial surge for Zero Dark Thirty at the beginning of award season Zero Dark Thirty has fallen out of favor.  After winning the Golden Globe and SAG Award Jennifer Lawrence looks like the front runner but I am not ready to say it is a sure thing. 

Best Supporting Actor is still a wide open race.  Tommy Lee Jones won the SAG for Lincoln which puts him at an advantage but he has not won any other awards for the role.  I think some might feel sentimental for Robert DeNiro who has not been nominated since 1991 for Cape Fear and has not won since 1980 for Raging Bull. Right now I would put them even. 

The Best Picture race is starting to become clearer and looks like it could make history. 
The PGA is one of the best predictors of who will win the Best Picture at the Oscars.  Only 7 times in the last 24 years has a movie won at the PGA and not won Best Picture.  With Argo winning the PGA and also winning Best Ensemble at the SAG this clearly puts it as a front runner.  Why isn’t it a sure thing then? Well that is because only 3 times in Oscar history has a movie won Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director.  So, history is giving us conflicting answers. 

The three movies that won Best Picture without even being nominated for Best Director
1927 Wings at the first ever Academy Awards
1932 Grand Hotel (the only movie to win without any other nominations)
1989 Driving Ms. Daisy

The Seven Movies that Won the DGA but lost Best Picture
1992 The Crying Game lost Best Picture to Unforgiven
1995 Apollo 13 lost Best Picture to Braveheart
1998 Saving Private Ryan lost Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love
2001 Moulin Rouge! lost Best Picture to A Beautiful Mind
2004 The Aviator lost Best Picture to Million Dollar Baby
2005 Brokeback Mountain lost Best Picture to Crash
2006 Little Miss Sunshine lost Best Picture to The Departed

Friday we will see what the Directors Guild has to say and things could get really interesting. 

Sunday Spotlight - The Star Wars Saga

To those of you living in a remote cave somewhere, this may be shocking news to you. George Lucas sold out. To those of you who own multiple copies of multiple special editions of DVD's and VHS's, not so much. So, Lucasfilm is now owned by Disney. Not only Star Wars but, Indiana Jones and a few other beloved movies as well. Star Wars is the big money maker here though so, without hesitation, Disney announced a new trilogy. Fan reaction was mixed at best. Lucas has be very adimant in the past that Star Wars is done, the story is done, it's over. Fans have resigned themselves to this finality. The original trilogy is pure classic fantasy, the prequel trilogy, not so much but, the fans were accepting. The whole story has been told. In a 1999 interview with Starlog magazine he said the following..

Q: Does that mean you won't do episodes seven, eight and nine?
Lucas: I will not do seven, eight and nine.
Q: You will not? Will they be made by somebody else?
Lucas: No. They will not.
Q: So this trilogy ends it?
Lucas: This is it. This is all there is.

Then, in 2008 came the following...

"The story, the saga, of Star Wars, – which is the Skywalker saga or the tragedy of Darth Vader – starts with him being 10 years old. It ends when he dies. Luke's role in that story is the fact that he redeems his father, but that is the story. There is no more story after that. What happens to Luke after that, it isn't relevant to the story of what happens to Darth Vader because he's gone."

THEN, of course we fast forward to January 2012...

"'s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."

What the heck, George Lucas?

So, now rumors are flying all over the place about Episode VII. As of this writing, J.J. Abrams has been confirmed as the director. Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) is tasked with the script. All of the main cast from the original trilogy are interested in reprising their roles, as is Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson as Jedi ghosts, I suppose. This leads to an important question, do we WANT them to reprise their roles? Remember Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull? We remember the original trilogy with rose tinted glasses. The actors have all aged and are not as we remember them.

While, that's no reason to not include them, is it a wise choice? We look forward to these sequels to beloved films that have been dormant for years only to be heavily dissapointed. How many of you Star Wars fans "liked" Phantom Menace? It just wasn't the same for many of us. I remain hesitant to be excited about this new trilogy. Folks may say Disney did a great job with The Avengers, I agree with that, it was fantastic. But, remember Disney also had John Carter and Pirates 4, and the numerous duds they have churned out, Witch Mountain with The Rock, anyone?

So, what can we expect from Episode VII? Not much is known as of now. Disney received an "extensive story treatment" by Lucas for Episode VII. In an August 2012 meeting with series stars Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, Lucas disclosed that he would not direct the sequels. Perhaps the meeting was to ask if they were interested in appearing in the new trilogy? The new trilogy will be a new story and not based on any of the books or other media.

According to British newspaper The Express, Darth Vader will return.

“He’s an integral part of the franchise. Replacing him is virtually impossible,” explains a film mole.
“The plan is for him to return and play a significant role in the new films.”
This is just speculation but, makes sense. I wouldn't put it past Disney to bring him back.
What ever the outcome, Disney is poised to make millions of dollars from each movie so, we can expect new films often. As a Star Wars fan, I hope they don't run it into the ground. Money and the greed for it have a way of doing that to franchises, you know. Remember the Joel Schumacher Batman years?
We shall see.....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

For a while it seemed like I would never get to see this movie in the theatre.  Every time I thought I had time something would come up.  But I finally made it and glad I did.  What an excellent movie. 

When I first read about this movie it sounded unremarkable.  A love story between two people that have issues is not a plot that makes you take notice.  It doesn't have big special effects, it is not about a famous person or incident, and it is based on a book that I have never heard of.  The movie didn't seem like it would be anything special.  But what it delivers is something emotional with great performances. 

The plot sounds simplistic enough boy with issues meets girl with issues and they fall in love.  But there is a lot going on in the movie.  After being sentenced for eight months in a mental hospital for nearly beating his wife’s lover to death Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released into the care of his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro).  While in the hospital he developed a plan to win his wife back by getting fit and always looking for the silver linings in life. At a dinner with his friends one night he meets a girl Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has issues of her own.  The two get off to a rocky start but end up forming a bit of a dysfunctional friendship.  Pat is still obsessing over his wife and wants to patch things up with her. Tiffany is trying to get over her husband who died in an accident that she blames herself for.  Tiffany manages to manipulate Pat into becoming her dance partner but neither one is able to see the love that is forming between them and there are constant obstacles they must overcome.  What sets this movie apart from other romantic movies is the realness of it.  Love isn’t easy and sometimes it's messy. 

I found myself having a hard time getting into the movie at first and I wasn’t sure where it was going.  But as soon as we are introduced to Tiffany the movie really sucked me in.  Jennifer Lawrence gives a complexity to Tiffany that is just amazing. She is both self-confident and vulnerable.  She knows what she wants but feels she needs to manipulate people to get it. Bradley Cooper is equally good. We feel Pat's struggle with trying to figure out how he fits into this new post marriage world.  Robert De Niro gives a great subtle performance as Pat Sr. who has some OCD issues of his own that he focuses on football. 

David O. Russell who wrote and directed the movie did a fantastic job at getting everything to feel real and not forced.  Nothing is over the top.  Every time Pat has an incident it is a slow build up and not just a sudden outburst.  We really get to feel his struggle leading up to it and his struggle dealing with the aftermath. 

What I love about this movie is the way it deals with mental illness.  Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and must come to grips with the disease.  It is not glossed over nor is it sensationalized.  Pat must go to a therapist and after trying to control his emotions on his own he realizes his medication does help.  Probably the most honest movie about mental illness since Ordinary People.  As someone who has struggled with depression it is nice to see a movie that gets it right.

Overall: 5 out of 5 stars.  Definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite romantic comedies. Feels genuine and has great performances with the stand out being Jennifer Lawrence. Bradley Cooper gives the best performance of his career so far.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Home Movie Releases 1/22/13

Wide selection of movies being released today including 2 movies that were hoping for some Oscar nominations and a few great documentaries one of which did get an Oscar nomination.

End of Watch - Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as cops in this thriller that was shot documentary style. There was some talk about Oscar nominations especially for Pena but it was shut out.

The Paperboy – An independent movie that didn’t get a wide release but had great reviews for Nicole Kidman’s performance in this steamy thriller.

Searching for Sugar Man - Topped many lists as the Best Documentary of the year and scored an Oscar nomination.

The Imposter – A incredible documentary that I got to see at the Milwaukee Film Festival about a boy that goes missing then is found years later but all is not as it seems.

Beauty is Embarrasing: The Wayne White Story – A documentary about Wayne White who worked on Pee-wee’s Playhouse and has gone on to be a celebrated artist.

For a Good Time Call – A comedy about a couple of girls end up making good money in the phone sex business.

Nature Calls – Another comedy that did not do well about a crazy Scout trip.

Death Race 3: Inferno – The third in the action franchise.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning - A movie that got a limited release in theatres but has been on VOD for a while. Reteams Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren from the original Universal Soldier.

Fat Kid Rules the World – A movie directed by Matthew Lillard who play Shaggy in the Scooby-doo movies I know nothing else about this movie.

Deadly Blessing (1981) – One of Wes Craven’s earliest movies is getting a Blu-Ray Release

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) – Alan Arkin is nominated for his fourth Oscar this year but this is one from the 70’s where he plays Sigmund Freud trying to help Sherlock Holmes.

The Quiet man (60th Anniversary Special Edition) – Fans of John Wayne might be interested in this special edition of The Quiet Man one of his few non-western movies.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Spotlight: Jennifer Lawrence the Girl on Fire

Jennifer Lawrence is having a great month so far.  Nominated for her second Academy Awards, winning a Golden Globe, and hosting Saturday Night Live.  This week is just the tip of the iceberg.  She had a fantastic year in 2012 and is having an amazing start to her career.  At 22 she already has an impressive resume.

Her breakthrough came in 2010 when Winter's Bone premiered at Sundance and won the Grand Jury Prize. For the role of mountain girl Ree she learned to hunt and skin raccoons.  The movie did not do well in the theaters but did get lots of critical praise and earned several Academy Award nominations including one for Jennifer for Best Actress.  At the time she was the second youngest Actress to earn a Best Actress nomination.

Earning an Oscar nomination as a young actor or actress does not mean you will go on to have a successful career.  Just ask Haley Joel Osment, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and to a lesser extent Ellen Paige.  But somehow Jennifer defied the odds.  While some actresses find success in big budget franchise hits and some find critical praise in independent films Jennifer was able to do both

Right after the Oscars Jennifer signed on to her first big budget franchise as Mystique in X-Men: First Class. After two disappointing movies in the X-Men franchise First Class needed to be good to rejuvenate the franchise.  Casting a somewhat unknown in the role of a main character was a bit of a gamble but it paid off.  Jennifer was great in the role and was one of the reasons the movie was a successful.

Somehow she also had time to land a role that would define her even more.  The Hunger Games was a hugely popular book and there were many actresses up for the part of Katniss.  After she was cast die hard fans were upset that she wouldn't look right or was too old for the part. But,  by the time movie came out in 2012 whatever doubts fans had about her were gone.  The movie became one of the biggest hits of the year and it was her performance that made the move so good. Fans adored her in the role and she won the MTV Movie Award for Best Actress and was nominated for a Peoples Choice Award.

But she wasn't done in 2012.  Proving that she has real acting skill she did another independent movie Silver Linings Playbook.  As Tiffany a girl with issues she showed she can create a complex character.  So after winning over fans with X:Men and The Hunger Games she won over critics again with this one.  She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and is nominated and considered a front runner by some for Best Actress at the Oscars.

I can't forget to mention that in 2012 she was also in the horror remake House at the End of the Street.  This unfortunately was not her best choice but lucky for her it came out in the middle of the year and is sandwiched between her two successful movies.

Also another random fact.  She had a small role in Like Crazy which won The Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2011 so she was in two Grand Jury Prize winners in back to back years.

In summary.  Very few people can keep their critical praise and do giant blockbuster franchises especially a young actress.  But she has done it and has two Oscar Nominations and stars in two franchises that have to work their shooting schedules around her.  My only hope is that the pressure doesn't get to her and she can keep giving us great performances.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Home Video Releases 1/15/13

Lots of new releases coming out this week so lets get right to it.

Taken 2 – Liam Neeson is back kicking ass in the action sequel.

To Rome with Love – Every year Woody Allen makes a new movie. This is his latest that did not generate too much reaction.

Won’t Back Down – A social drama starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Possession – The latest paranormal horror movie.

Allegiance – A war drama about a couple of National Guard soldiers who are trying to fight deployment to Iraq.

Farewell My Queen – A French period drama about Marie Antoinette that had a very limited release.

About Cherry – A small movie with some big names about a girls journey into the porn industry.

17 Girls – Another French movie. This one I saw at the Milwaukee Film Fest and is about girls in a seaside town who get so bored they think having a kid will make them happy and 17 girls all get pregnant around the same time.

A few special edition movies are being released.

Notebook: Ultimate Collector’s Edition – Not sure what is so ultimate about this edition but it is sure to get the ladies excited.

Prometheus to Alien: Evolution – A 9 disc collection of the 4 Alien movies and Prometheus.

We have a few classic movies that are getting released on Blu-Ray today.

How Green Was My Valley – John Ford is known for his Westerns but this is one of his dramas and more notably known for beating Citizen Kane for Best Picture in 1942.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)– A Hitchcock classic. He liked it so much he remade into another classic in 1956

Sleeper – As mentioned earlier Wood Allen directs a movie almost once a year. This is one of his earlier movies from 1973.

Hannah and Her Sisters – Another Woody Allen movie this one from 1986 that won Michael Caine a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

Wuthering Heights (1939)- 1939 is considered one of the greatest years for movies. This is one of the movies that helps 1939 get that reputation.

Gentleman’s Agreement – A Best Picture winner from 1947 the movie explores anti-Semitism in the late 40’s. A rare Best Picture winner that had a social agenda.

Best Years of Our Lives – And the list of Best Picture winners getting released on Blu-Ray grows. This is one of the best WWII films around.

There are a few documentaries being released today also.

Runaway Slave – I have to admit I never heard of this one before but it takes a look at why African Americans vote Democratic when it was the Republicans that freed the slaves. It has Glenn Beck, Andrew Breibart, and Herman Caine as commentators.

Detropia – Another documentary that has a focus on African Americans in America. This movie played at the Milwaukee Film Festival and has gotten high praise. It’s focus is on the rise and fall of Detroit and the people that live there. With no talking head the movie is told through interviews with residents.

The Other Dream Team – The story of the Lithuania Olympic Basketball Team in 1992

5 Broken Cameras – And another documentary from the Milwaukee Film Fest and ended up getting an Oscar Nomination for Best Documentary. The movie is about the conflict in Palestine.

I am Bruce Lee – A documentary about Bruce Lee

China Heavyweight – The last documentary on this list to play at the Milwaukee Film Festival. About a weightlifter in China who is chosen to go to the Olympics.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Spotlight: Most Anticipated Movies of 2013

This week on the Sunday Spotlight we take a look at the movies that we are most excited for in 2013. 

First up is Chris. 

1.      Evil Dead - I was very skeptical when this was first announced. After seeing set photos and the first trailer, I was sold. This looks like it will be THE horror film of 2013.

2.      Star Trek into Darkness - I really liked the first film in this reboot of the franchise. This looks to continue the story and expand in it's alternate timeline. Definitely one to look for.

3.      Man of Steel - Zach Snyder's first 2 feature films were great films to start a directing career. He has slipped a bit with his recent films but, Man Of Steel looks to bring him back. With a great cast and Chris Nolan producing, This looks great.

4.      Oz the Great and Powerful - Cards on the table, I am a fan of James Franco. Directed by Sam Raimi, a very visionary director, Oz looks good. While, it may be too intense for young children, this looks like a fun family film.

5.      The Hobbit 2 - This chapter should up the ante in the action area. An Unexpected Journey set us up for more great adventure. Looking forward to seeing if the 48 fps technology has advanced any.

6.      Iron Man 3 - Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Kingsley star in the third Iron Man. The second film left much to be desired for many fans but, this looks to right those wrongs. I just hope that Downey's "schtick" doesn't get too old.

7.      World War Z - Brad Pitt is in a zombie film. I never thought I would be typing that. Based on parts of Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son) book, this has a great story to tell.

8.      A Good Day to Die Hard - Bruce Willis returns as John Mclane. What's not to look forward to?

9.  Pacific Rim- With what looks like a live action Robotech movie, I was on the fence about adding this. I have faith in Del Toro's directing though and am a big fan of his.

10.  Elysium - With Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, Elysium has a lot going for it. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, this should be nothing short of a thrilling sci fi thriller.

Steve’s Turn

I want to start by saying that many of the trailers for the big movies coming out this year have not really excited me.  Movies like Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, The Lone Ranger and even Star Trek into Darkness have given us less than stellar trailers. I will say the exceptions are Iron Man 3 and Evil Dead both of those movies do look good but I didn't want to duplicate any of Chris’ picks so we could include a larger number of movies and that is why they are not on my list.

1.       Now You See Me – This looks like a fun heist movie with an all-star cast. Including Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Michael Caine.  

2.      This is the End- One of the funniest trailers I have seen so far for this year.  A movie with actors playing a version of themselves in a post-apocalyptic world.  With Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride. 

3.       The Wolverine- I am excited to see where this movie goes.  It looks like it will be a darker movie then the previous Wolverine.  I was excited when Darren Aronofsky was set to direct and am a little disappointed he stepped away from the project but I am still excited to see it.   

4.      Saving Mr. Banks- A true story about how Walt Disney bought the rights to Mary Poppins to turn it into a movie.  The script has been getting a lot of attention and casting Tom Hanks as Walt Disney seems to fit.  The movie feels like Oscar bait.

5.      Wolf of Wall Street- Martin Scorsese reteaming with Leonardo DiCaprio what more needs to be said.  The two have made some great movies together and this one about corruption on Wall Street has all the making of another great one. 

6.      The Worlds End- Fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz should be excited about this one.  The movie reteams Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with Director Edgar Wright.  This will complete what they call The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy.  The movie is about five friends who do a pub crawl and somehow become the survivors of an apocalypse. 

7.      Gravity- Alfonso Curon directed one of my favorite sci-fi movies of recent years Children of Men.  This time he takes a journey into space with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.  I am hoping he can create something equally as interesting as he did in Children of Men. 

8.      Only God Forgives- Another director reteaming with an actor. This time it is Nicholas Winding Refn reteaming with Ryan Gosling.  The last movie they made together was the violent but slow Drive.  This time Ryan Gosling is involved in a brutal boxing match so looks to be much more violent. 

9.      Kick-Ass 2- The first Kick-Ass was a pleasant surprise in 2010 and I am hoping that the sequel can recapture thzt fun.

10.   After Earth- M. Night Shyamalan has lost a lot of respect in Hollywood after his last couple of movies.  But the guy has made some great movies and I am hoping that teaming up with Will Smith will bring back the Shyamalan we love.  This is the third movie on my list that is post-apocalyptic but the only one that is not a comedy. It is about a father and son who crash land on Earth 1,000 years after it was evacuated. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Review

Set in a post 9/11 world, Zero Dark Thirty centers on the Hunt for Bin Laden and his crew of terrorists. At the center of the search is Maya, a CIA operative played by Jessica Chastain. It's been her only job since she joined the CIA. Needless to say, she is obsessed. The film opens with a gritty interreogation scene. A fellow CIA operative, Dan (Jason Clarke) introduces Maya to the dark side of hunting terrorists. Unfortunately, the film doesn't pick up the pace onward.

Chastain's performace was very dull and monotonous. It's never established why she is so obsessed or, what her motives are. She came off as more of a know it all snob that a professional. There were some good supporting actors who brought the film up. Jason Clarke (Public Enemies, Lawless) was great as fellow CIA agent Dan. He starts the film off with a bang water boarding a poor soul.

The journey the film takes just doesn't move along, it's quite boring at times. With a weak script, it's hard to stay interested. The real problem is the film's length. At just over 2 and a half hours, it felt an hour too long. The film jumps forward, sometimes years at a time which can throw you off.

The action scenes left something to be desired too. The last half hour was the "raid" on the compund. Which includes most of what we saw in the trailer. This was the most interesting part of the film. It's just too bad we have to sit throught the boring first 2 hours. I can't say I really disliked this film, it just left a lot to be desired.

3 out of 5 stars.

If you can make it throught the first 2 hours, your in for a treat.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2013 Oscar Nomination Predication

Here are my annual Oscar Nomination Predictions. 
I am going for a few surprises.  The biggest being that Silver Linings Playbook will be the first movie since 2004’s Million Dollar Baby to be nominated for the Top 5 (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, and Actress) although the Director and Actor nominations are the shakiest.

Best Picture- This year like last year there is not a specified number of Best Picture nominees.  There could be anything from 5 – 10.  Last year we ended up with 9 this year I am predicting 8.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserable
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

If it does make it to 10 here are the two movies I think will be number 9 and 10
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom

Best Director- With all those Best Picture nominations it is hard to figure out which directors will get nominated for Best Director.  Tarantino feels like the big one missing from this list but Ang Lee did get the Directors Guild nomination.    
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

Best Actor-There have been lots of talk about Denzel Washington making the list for Flight but I am guessing he gets snubbed. 
Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables)
Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Actress – Naomi Watts has been getting lots of talk recently for The Impossible she could make the list but I think it might be too little too late.
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Marrion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

Best Supporting Actor-Christoph Waltz was fantastic in Django Unchained but I consider him more a lead and not supporting actor and am guessing the Academy will also.
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook)

Best Supporting Actress- Pretty crowded field and maybe adding Ann Dowd is just my wish but there has been lots of talk and think she can pull off that 5th spot.
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Amy Adams (The Master)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

Best Animated Feature
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Original Screenplay-Looper is going to be my surprise pick for this category. 
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Rian Johnson (Looper)
Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Chris Terrio (Argo)
William Nicholson (Les Miserables)
David Magee (Life of Pi)
Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Home Movie Releases 1/8/13

Lots of releases today and with the Oscar nominations on Thursday there are a few connections. So let’s get right into it.

Compliance- my favorite movie of last year. It only got limited release and not many people saw it but I highly recommend getting it. Will hopefully get a Best Supporting Actress Nomination for Ann Dowd

Dredd 3D – Another version of Judge Dredd this time without Sylvester Stallone. It got some positive reviews.

Frankenweenie- The new Tim Burton stop motion animation movie. Will likely get an Oscar Nomination for Best Animated Feature

House at the End of the Street – Another horror remake. Jennifer Lawrence will probably get an Oscar nomination but not for this movie.

Stolen – A Nicolas Cage movie that looks like so many other movies.

Hit and Run – A large cast of people in this one but got lost with other summer movies. It actually looked pretty good. Bradley Cooper is one of the costars and will probably get an Oscar nomination but not for this movie.

Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden- The made for TV movie is getting its release before the probably Oscar nominee Zero Dark Thirty comes out on Friday which is about the same topic.

Game Change- The HBO movie about Sarah Palin with some great performances.

The Jazz Singer (1927)- The first movie with sound. A piece of Hollywood history. Worth having in your collection for that reason.

And while Oscar buzz is going around 3 winners of Best Picture are being released on Blu-Ray

Driving Miss Daisy – Best Picture 1989

Grand Hotel – Best Picture 1932

Mrs. Miniver – Best Picture 1942

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top 5 Horror films of 2012

Steve had his best documentary list a while back so, I thought I would make my best horror list. 2012 saw some great and not so great horror films. So, here is my top 5 horror films of 2012.

5. Silent House - "Inspired" by true events, I wasn't sure what to expect from Silent House. I thought it would be gimicky. Instead, it was a very tense, shocking horror film. With a very twisted ending, this is one of the truly scariest films of the year.

4. The Woman In Black - Surprise! Daniel Radcliffe can act. I called this Harry Potter and The Woman In Black when I heard of it. I was dead wrong in assuming it wouldnt be very good. It was a very atmospheric horror film. With a dark, damp, foggy London at the turn of the century, this is a great ghost story.

3. Sinister - Ethan Hawke stars in this intense horror story centered on a demon that is attracted to families. While, not a unique horror film, the scares are definetly there. Ethan Hawke keeps things together with a great performance. The soundtrack is also unique and very good here. It definetly adds to the films moody ambiance.

2. V/H/S - An anthology film by some of horror's best indie film makers, VHS caught many by surpise. Unique stories and great acting bring this film to life. This is one of the freshest horror films to come along in years.

1. The Cabin In The Woods  - A fresh horror film that blends scares and laughs very well, Cabin In The Woods is the best horror film of 2012. Joss Whedon' script is funny, quirky and unique. The cast was perfect, featuring Chris Hemsworth as the "jock." This film was in limbo for a long time at MGM. Thankfuly, Lionsgate saved it from the grave.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sunday Spotlight: Best of 2012

Well it is finally here.  The day we share our Top 5 movies of 2012.

Steve's List
Well as I said last week with my bottom 5 I did not see as many movies as I have in past years.  Apparently having a kid means making a few sacrifices.  But I did manage to see quite a few great movies and here is the list of my favorite.
5. Django Unchained -As a big fan of Quentin Tarantino I eagerly awaited Django Unchained and he did not disappoint.  One of his best movies a western filled with violence and comedy.  It feels like every movie he keep honing his craft with every movie he makes.

4. Safety Not Guaranteed- With all the big budget movies coming out in the beginning of the summer this was a nice refreshing movie. Part romantic comedy and part time travel movie it had a great cast and fun story. Jake Johnson from New Girl and Aubrey Plaza were the stand outs. The movie is about a newspaper crew doing a story about an ad in the classified section that read “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARENTEED”

3. The Avengers – Definitely the most fun I had at the movies this year.  On paper this looked like a movie that could never work.  How do you take superheroes from 4 different movies and jam them all into one movie?  Somehow Joss Whedon figured out how to make it work.  Each character gets their time in the spotlight and their is great banter between them.  A great example of what a popcorn movie should be.

2. Lincoln – Another movie that just sounded awesome from the beginning.  How can you go wrong with Steven Spielberg directing a movie staring Daniel Day Lewis. I was thoroughly engrossed in this political drama. Some people might have thought there was too much talking but it sucked me in. All the performances were amazing and I thought the movie presented Lincoln as well rounded man and not just as a flawless leader.   

1. Compliance - Not a movie a lot of people saw and caused division among those who did see it. For some the movie and the characters are stupid. But for me it was a fascinating look into the psychology of men. The movie gets under your skin with the sadistic prank phone caller who seems to get off on a power trip.  The question is how far are the people on the other end going to go.  And it turns out pretty far.  What is most disturbing is the fact that it is based on real events that happened in multiple locations around the country.  I read an interview with the screenwriter who said that he  left some things out that actually happened because he thought it would be too unbelievable.  Here is the news article from the original story warning it does have some spoilers.  A Hoax Most Cruel

Honorable Mentions:
sound of my voice- the only reason this didn’t make my list is because it made my list last year. I saw this at Sundance in 2011 but it did not get released till this year but didn’t feel right having it on my list two years in a row.

Holy Motors – Every year there is that one movie that you see that is so bizarre it takes a while for it to really sink it. While I don’t think it was a great movie it did have some good moments but like great films it caused some fun conversations trying to figure out what it was about.

Chris' list
2012 was a great year for movies. It seemed that every week, there was a great new movie opening.
It was hard to whittle them down to a top 5 but, here are my picks for the year.

5. Prometheus - How many other movies released in June are still being debated now? Prometheus marks Ridley Scott's return to the Alien universe he created in 1979. With a fascinating story and top notch acting, Prometheus fits right in on my top 5 list. With an open ending, Scott confirmed that a sequel is in the works.

4. The Cabin In The Woods - This is a fun horror movie. With a very clever script and a talented cast, this was a breath of fresh air in a season of sub par horror movies. Delayed for some time, Lionsgate snapped this up for distribution.

3. The Avengers - One of the greatest popcorn movies of all time is The Avengers. Marvel had been building up to this for years with their previous films. This is a blast to watch from start to finish. This is the new gold standard for comic book films.

2. Django Unchained - Tarantino's western opus is nothing short of fantastic. Jamie Foxx is so well cast as Django and Tarantino's clever writing has never been sharper here. The action is total Tarantino, as is the humor. See this film ASAP.

1. Lincoln - Daniel Day-Lewis is one of, if not the finest actor working today. If you don't believe me, see Lincoln. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln has been in the making for years and it comes to the screen in grand form. The game of politics hasn't changed much and, it is fascinating to see Lincoln play this game. This is a close look into the final days of the Civil War and, Lincoln's fight to end slavery. This is my favorite film of the year and really one of my favorite's of all time.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best Documentaries of 2012

My picks for the best movies of 2012 will be posted later this week but there are some deserving documentaries that didn't make it on my list that I wanted to highlight.  So I decided to make a list of my favorite documentaries of the year.  While I may not have seen a large number of documentaries I have seen some great ones. And I have to thank The Milwaukee Film Festival for the opportunity to see some of these great movies.

5.  As Goes Janesville- This documentary hits close to home.  This documentary follows 5 people as they cope with the economic recession.  They come from different backgrounds and are affected differently.  But in a case of being in the right place at the right time (or wrong time depending on your perspective) the movie captured the political turmoil around Governor Scott Walker's elimination of the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
My full review here

4.  The Queen of Versailles- Another movie about the economic downturn and another movie that happened to be in the right place at the right time.  The Queen of Versailles starts off about the building of the largest house in America but quickly switches to a family coping with economic problems.  While the family remains wealthy the movie finds a way to make them sympathetic even when their problems is nothing compared to others. The movie is currently streaming on Netflix.
My full review here

3.  The Imposter- This is one of those movies that if it was a fiction  movie no one would believe it.  Told through interviews and recreations the movie is about a family who's son goes missing and is possibly found in France.  But who is the person that claims to be this kid?  The movie takes unexpected twists and turns.
My full review here

2.  The Invisible War-This was sort of a last minute decision during the Milwaukee Film Festival but wow was I blown away.  The movie tells the heartbreaking stories of women and men who were raped in the military.  The movie is about the constant cover up of these abuses and the military culture that allows these abuses to continue.  It is a sad movie that will hopefully cause some changes. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
My full review here

1.  Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God- With lots of great movies at the Milwaukee Film Festival this was the stand out of the documentaries.  This is another heartbreaking look at sexual abuse and cover ups this time by Catholic Priests and the Vatican.  One of the main focuses of the movie is the Saint John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis Wi. While the movie is very good what made this an exceptional experience was getting to see it with the subjects that are featured in the movie.  The movie will be on HBO later this year. My full review here

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Home Movie Releases 1/1/13

Happy New Year everyone. Not many movies being released on the holiday but here they are.

Looper -a sci-fi time travel movie from the guy that directed Drive.

Cosmopolis- Robert Pattinson in a non-Twilight movie directed by David Cronenberg

Little Birds – A Sundance Favorite but didn’t see a big wide release