My Year in Film

Everyone seems to be writing Oscar prediction posts now, but I’ll spare you that. Instead, I’m just going to write about some of the films I’ve seen this year.

It’s been  a pretty solid year for cinema, which is great considering last year the Academy nominated a  film titled War Horse. The Best Picture field was a mess. It looked like my bedroom floor after a night of heavy drinking, which is to say I’m not surprised at what ended up there, but I know damn well 90 percent of it shouldn’t be there. 

Despite this being a great year to go to the theater, it was also a year filled with nitpicking, angry nerds. Because if there’s one thing the Internet hates more than Hollywood not adapting beloved franchises from its collective youth, it’s Hollywood adapting those franchises and making good films with a few minor problems. But I’ll get to that later.

What I saw

I didn’t see everything I wanted to this year, but I saw a decent number of films.

I liked almost everything I saw because unlike, say, Armond White who has built a career upon trashing generally well-regarded films, I still enjoy going to the theater.

The Grey

I will find you, and I will kill you…even if you’re a wolf.

I’ve made it pretty clear in previous posts that I will see anything with Liam  Neeson in it. I was excited to see The Grey because the trailer and commercials made it look like Wolf Punching: The Movie. 

Unfortunately, there was far too little wolf face punching for my liking. It was more of a meditation on mortality and loss, only with rifles and Alaska.

Overall, I enjoyed it, though.

Goon 

Let’s get this out of the way–Goon is what many people would consider a stupid film. I know that. It’s stupid and goofy, but it’s not trying to be anything more than that. And you know what? I laughed my ass off.

But it’s also surprisingly sincere and sweet, and you’ll find yourself rooting for Sean William Scott’s character. In a way, it reminded me of movies like Slap Shot and Semi-Pro. I wish studios would put out more sports films in a similar vein  instead of trying to make the next Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans or Miracle. 

If you’re like me and didn’t get your face-punching fix watching The Grey,  there’s plenty in Goon. Plus, it gave me my new favorite pickup line, “I like your face. You’ve got a pretty name and pretty face.”

21 Jump Street

Going into the theater, I was skeptical. An adaptation of a FOX police procedural (with a ridiculous premise), starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill sounds like two out-of-touch, 40-something producers throwing around buzzwords on a cocaine bender.

But, boy, those producers made me eat crow. 21 Jump Street was hilarious. I knew Jonah Hill would be, but I was surprised to see Tatum keeping up with him. Ice Cube was great as the stereotypical mad-as-hell police higher-up and Rob Riggle has never not been funny.

The Hunger Games

I think it was virtually impossible not to see The Hunger Games this year. It was everywhere. I don’t really have much to say about it other than I liked it and Jennifer Lawrence is wonderful.

I saw it on a date, so it didn’t really have my full attention.

The Amazing Spider-Man

This one was difficult for me. Only five years removed from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, it seemed a little early to hop on the reboot bandwagon. Also, I love Raimi’s work, so, in a weird way, it felt like I was cheating on him by seeing Marc Webb’s version (I’m aware I have issues).

Despite those initial feelings, I still enjoyed it. I’ve always thought the Lizard is a stupid villain, but I also realize Webb and the producers would have taken a ton of heat had they recycled a villain from Raimi’s series. Rhys Ifans was excellent as Dr. Connors, but the CGI Lizard looked bizarre.

I’m still undecided if I like Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield better as Peter Parker, but Emma Stone, as the love interest, was a definite upgrade from Kirsten Dunst.

Yup.

The Avengers

I already wrote about The Avengers once. I thought it was great. Sure, it wasn’t an absolutely perfect film. However, like I mentioned in my previous post, it could have been a disaster trying to tie together so many franchises. Joss Whedon pulled it off, though.

Dan O’Brien at Cracked said it better than I could, so I’ll just step aside: “Was it perfect? No. But I got to see Thor, Captain America and Iron Man all on the same screen fighting alongside each other, looking how they were supposed to look and saying what they were supposed to say. Joss Whedon didn’t make a flawless movie, but he made an Avengers movie, and that is goddamned impossible.”

The Dark Knight Rises 

You knew this one was coming. I loved TDKR. It was virtually guaranteed, considering it stars five of my favorite actors (Gary Oldman, Michael Cane, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and is about my favorite superhero.

A lot of people on the Internet didn’t feel the same way, though. TDKR was arguably the most anticipated film of the year, and followed the best superhero film ever made. That’s a lot to live up to, and I don’t see how it could have.

The Internet nitpicked it do death, sucking out the joy for the rest of us who just wanted to enjoy the finale of one of the most brilliant trilogies in history. Angry nerds and critics said it was too overwrought with symbolism and there’s no way Batman would have outrun the nuclear blast and Bane talked funny and Bruce Wayne didn’t really sacrifice a goddamn thing.

To be fair, it’s hard to feel bad for anyone who ends up with her.

Shut up.

Listen to you idiots. You’re so concerned about what it should have been that you can’t even enjoy what was. We’re lucky Warner Brothers even made another Batman series after Joel  Schumaker did his best to run the franchise into the ground.

Not only did we get another series, but it was overseen by one of the best directors working today. And you know what? Christopher Nolan created the Batman and the Gotham City that I imagined in my head when I read Year One, The Long Halloween and the Knightfall story arch in Batman and Detective Comics. 

Not only that, he delivered The Dark Knight. He delivered the movie you all wanted. Nolan  made the movie you all wanted since you knew you wanted superhero films.  He only agreed to direct TDKR so he could make Inception, the movie he wanted to make. 

I guess that wasn’t enough. The Internet just kept shouting “MORE!”  Frankly, I’m glad I got to see updates on Catwoman and Bane and an older, slightly decrepit Batman a la’ Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. 

Just be grateful we didn’t get more Batsuit nipples and terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger puns.

Prometheus 

As long as I’m fighting the Internet…Prometheus was another highly anticipated film that the Internet decided to ruin for everyone else.

Prometheus marked Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction, taking place in the same universe as Alien, Aliens and Alien 3. Fans of the franchise had been clamoring for years about what Scott could to with that universe if he chose to revisit it.

Once he did, his own fans shat all over it. I think people were expecting Scott to remake Alien. To which, I must wonder, why? He already made that movie.

Why Internet? WHY!?

The Internet said Prometheus was too philosophical without providing any insight or answers. I also heard that it was disjointed and too grandiose for its own good.

Admittedly, I think Scott probably overdid it. But you know what? You make a better film than Prometheus. I would challenge other directors, many of whom surprisingly still get work (Michael Bay, Brett Ratner I’m looking at you guys), to produce something like it. I mean, how dare Scott try to film a plot that doesn’t revolve solely around explosions and boobs?

And were any of you sweaty Internet nerds watching Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron? If nothing else, they were worth the admission price.

Dredd

Dredd was okay. My only hope going into the theater was that it would be better than Judge Dredd. It was. Not that, that’s saying much.

In that respect, it succeeded. It also succeeded by keeping Dredd’s damn helmet on like the 2000 AD comics it was adapted from.

I am the law.

Take This Waltz 

Be forewarned, this movie bummed the hell out of me. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, I did. But then again, I kind of like movies that don’t get the Wayne’s World “mega happy” ending.

It follows a Canadian couple, Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams, who fall out of love. It’s no one’s fault, either. It just happened and there’s nothing Rogen’s character could have done about it.

If you want an honest look at relationships or if you want to be feel slightly depressed for a while, watch it. If not, take a pass.

Moonrise Kingdom

I know I’ll catch hell for this, but Moonrise Kingdom was probably my favorite film of the year.

I don’t even like Wes Anderson that much, but there was something about seeing love depicted innocently, without being sexualized (minus an awkward boner here and there).

Of course, Bill Murray is always great, but Bruce Willis really did it for me. Audiences are so used to seeing him play the world’s badass-in-chief that they forget he’s a good actor. I loved seeing him play such an understated, sad-sack role.

I will say the mini Kristen Stewart occasionally gave me the creeps. Other than that, I have no complaints.

7 Psychopaths 

I freaking loved this movie. Sam Rockwell is probably one of the most underrated actors working today. Also, Colin Farrell is starting to grow on me after seeing him in this, as well as In Bruges and London Boulevard.

Not only was it very funny, but it was also dark. It packed in a lot of action and even some tender moments, too. Additionally, the plot develops in a very Tarantino/Ritchie way, which I’m a sucker for. Viewers are given the pieces of the puzzle at the start of the film and gradually they put together the whole picture.

Oh, and Christopher Walken and Tom Waits.

Taken 2

Again, Liam Neeson.

This was probably the film I liked least this year. It’s disappointing because Taken is one of my favorite action films.

I think it just tried to be more than it was.  There was a requisite amount of ass kicking, but it was interspersed with a number of unnecessary scenes.

That’s all I can really say about it.

Skyfall

I’ll start by saying Casino Royale is one of my all-time favorite films. I seem to enjoy Quantum of Solace  a great deal more than many of my peers, too (the trick is to think of it as the second half of Royale).

So, yeah, I highly enjoyed Skyfall. I liked that James Bond was depicted as something less than the suave killing/sexing machine we’ve become familiar with after decades of Bond films.

Dude can still rock a suit, though.

The antagonist doesn’t appear until 20 minutes into the film, which would be a problem if it were any other film or actor. However, Javiar Bardem’s first scene is so taught and well-played that I didn’t even care. He probably won’t earn a supporting actor nomination but he should.

Also, the end where it was basically Straw Dogs was pretty badass.

Lincoln

Everyone should see this film. Daniel Day Lewis is amazing as Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones is thoroughly entertaining. I also liked the depiction of the political chess and back-alley deals that needed to be made to achieve Lincoln’s political goals.

To those of you who said it was, “just like a history lesson, man.” Well, yeah you moron. That tends to happen with historical dramas. But, also, if you felt like that, why did you see it in the first place? Was there not a Teen Mom marathon playing?

I think it will probably win Best Picture.

What I had no intention of seeing

Silver Lining Playbook 

Listen, I like David O. Russell. The Fighter was one of the best films I’ve ever seen. However, the only thing about this movie that appealed to me based on the trailer was Jennifer Lawrence.

It culminates is a dance sequence that has more far-reaching consequences? Really?

Yeah, so nope.

The Master

On  a similar note, I like Paul Thomas Anderson. I thought Punch Drunk Love was oddly beautiful and if you don’t like There Will Be Blood, you’re nuts.

Again, there was nothing about The Master that appealed to me, not even seeing Amy Adams give a steel-fisted handy.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

I’m not a 17-year-old girl.

Magic Mike

I’m not a 27-year-old women with a cat and without a boyfriend. (If you’re going to get on me about the last two jokes, never visit my site again)

Red Dawn

There was no way I was going to pay $9 to see the most unnecessary remake of all time.

Total Recall

I wasn’t going to see the second most unnecessary remake of all time, either.

Flight

I thought about seeing Flight strictly for John Goodman. My feelings about Denzel Washington won out, though.

I have seen Denzel in this type of dramatic role too many goddamn times. No matter what the film or the character is, he plays it the same way 90 percent of the time.

Come on D-man, you don’t want to shake things up?

Cloud Atlas 

I don’t have three hours to spend, watching an experiment in movie makeup and prosthetics.

That’s My Boy

Adam Sandler just makes me sad now.

 

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