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My favorite performances and movies of 2010

The Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow and I am right there with critics and everyone else clutching my arm rests in anticipation of these announcements. However, unlike most of the critics who have had the pleasure of seeing all of the movies from last year, I was only able to see a handful. I have yet to see films like “Animal Kingdom”, “Another Year”, “Biutiful”, “Blue Valentine”, “Rabbit Hole”, “The Town”, and other movies seriously being considered for nomination. Those movies — except for “The Town” — have yet to be released in my area. I love New York’s capital region, but there just isn’t much demand for movies like those around here. As for “The Town”, well, I meant to go see it when it was released here, but I guess I just didn’t make a good enough effort. Now, I’m forced to wait for whenever Netflix feels like sending it to me; it’s all good!

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to watch a lot of the films in contention. With the help of the Internet and websites like InContention.com, ThompsonOnHollywood.com and others like it I was able to bypass a lot of the duds and go for only those movies that were seriously being considered. I did the same last year and they were very much right on the money. It was a big help and it has been a lot of fun too. Especially since 2010 was a really great year for Oscar worthy movies. Luckily for me, this year there weren’t a lot of period pieces that I can’t stand except for “The King’s Speech”, but as luck would have it, it wasn’t your average period piece. No, this movie was about a man/king with a speech impediment, not a pointless Jane Austen romance novel. Because of that, I found it entertaining and I ended up enjoying it a lot.

Like last year, I wanted to write an article predicting the nominations for this year. However, I decided not to do that again. I think the websites I mentioned above already do a good job at it and who am I to try to compete with them? Instead, what I am going to do is make a list of those actors and movies that moved, amazed, shocked or really entertained me like no other actor or movie has. Some of these performances and movies may or may not even be considered for the Oscars. I am just sharing my favorite performances and movies of 2010 of those I had the pleasure of watching:

Best performance in a supporting role by an actor:

  1. Christian Bale – The Fighter
    Bale just blew me out of my seat with his performance. I have never seen anything like it. I was so moved by it that I was literally speechless even 20 minutes after the movie was over. It is my opinion that Bale is a strong contender for the Oscar this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he walks away with it in February.
  2. Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech
    Rush was outstanding! He was funny, witty and just plain incredible. He was a lot of fun to watch in this role and I think he made “The King’s Speech” movie work. Hands down my favorite character in 2010.
  3. Jackie Chan – The Karate Kid
    I understand no one is going to nominate Mr. Chan for any Oscars and I think that is an injustice. I really think that he did an incredible job in this film. He is so much more than just a Kung Fu entertainer and this movie proves that he’s got what it takes to be a serious actor.
  4. John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
    Hawkes scared the shit out of me. Every time he was on screen I wanted to leave. He literally made me nervous. I hope to never meet anyone who is anywhere near as vicious as this character was. Wonderful job!
  5. Bill Murray – Get Low
    Murray was hysterical in this film. The film was very dark; it was after all a movie about a man planning his own funeral. But Murray’s incredibly well timed humor kept the film from going over the depressing edge. He kept the movie grounded and kept the audience interested in the story.
  6. Justin Timberlake – The Social Network
    Timberlake was unbelievable in this role. He brought that character to life and made you both love and hate him at the same time. And incredible performance from a former NSYNC member.

Best performances in a supporting role by an actress:

  1. Chloë Moretz – Kick-Ass
    Moretz is a 13 year old little girl with huge talent. From the moment she came on screen in “Kick-Ass” she stole the show and did nothing but impress me scene after scene. I also hear that her performance in “Let Me In” was outstanding. I expect she is going to be a great actress and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.
  2. Melissa Leo – The Fighter
    Holly Shit! I wanted to smack her. I hated her so much. Alice Ward was a real bitch and Leo played her flawlessly. I just happened to have seen the real Alice Ward on an HBO special and Leo nailed her character 100%: mannerisms, the way she carried herself, the way she talked. It was an incredible performance!
  3. Amy Adams – The Fighter
    What can I say? I can watch Adams recite bad poetry with her mouth full and she would still be wonderful. It was a little odd to watch a Disney princess stick her head out of a window and litter the audience with expletives galore, but she did it well and without it being awkward for the character. Adams has proven that she is a talented actress not just a type.
  4. Julianne Moore – The Kids are All Right
    I don’t care what people say. And please don’t get me wrong, I love Annette Bening, I think she’s an incredible actress, but the real performance in “The Kids are All Right” was given by Julianne Moore, not Bening. She was a sight to see and she delivered a difficult role flawlessly and effortlessly. Perhaps too effortlessly. It’s too bad people didn’t see that.
  5. Marion Cotillard – Inception
    I’ll admit, I am only including Cotillard in this list because she was HOT! Yeah, yeah, she was good and all, but she was nowhere near the caliber of the women above. She’s not even worthy of licking their shoe soles. But man she was HOT! I wish I had someone else to put in this spot, but I just wasn’t moved or impressed by too many supporting roles by women this year. Or was it that the ladies above set the bar way too high for everyone else? Or maybe I need to see more movies.

Best performance in a lead role by an actor:

  1. James Franco – 127 Hours
    Any time you have to carry a movie by yourself, you have a tough job ahead of you. And I think Franco gave one of the best performances of the year. It’s not easy cutting your own arm off. I saw (no pun intended) and felt the desperation in Franco’s eyes. In my opinion, he delivered the best performance of the year in one of the most difficult roles of the century.
  2. Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
    I can’t imagine how difficult this role must’ve been for Firth. I think it is everybody’s fantasy to be king, so for an actor to elicit sympathy from the audience as a king, I think was incredibly impressive. So why isn’t he at the top? Because I think that Firth depended on Rush. Without Rush “The King’s Speech” would have been in incredibly dull film. His performance was incredible no doubt, but seeing that Franco had the tougher role and delivered marvelously, there is no question that Franco should be the recipient of the Oscar.
  3. Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
    I don’t know what the big deal is with Eisenberg. I have seen four of his movies, including “The Social Network”, and he always gives the same performance in each and every one of them. Except that in “The Social Network”, the performance finally worked. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Costner and his performance in “JFK”. I like that he didn’t try to replicate Zuckerberg. Eisenberg did his own thing here and it was a performance to see and well worth a nomination.
  4. Robert Duvall – Get Low
    Robert Duvall spoke volumes without opening his mouth. That was impressive. I was blown away! I’ve always liked Duvall as an actor. You can always count on him to give a good performance. I just never thought that he would be as awesome as he was in “Get Low”.
  5. George Clooney – The American
    The same with Clooney. A lot of people don’t like his acting, but I think he is an incredibly talented actor. In this movie he hardly said a word, his acting involved machining parts to make weapons and to me he machined those parts like a pro as if he were in that line of work for a life time. Well done!

Best performance in a lead role by an actress:

  1. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
    I have always loved Portman as an actress ever since I first saw her on “Léon: The Professional” 16 years ago playing a 13 year old child being trained as an assassin. She did a great job then, but her role in “Black Swan” was stunning. One can’t help but admire and appreciate her determination and the work that it must’ve taken to take on this role, and to execute the part so perfectly…  I have no doubts that she will take home the Oscar this year.
  2. Hailee Stainfeld – True Grit
    This young girl really impressed me this year. She came out of nowhere and impressed pretty much everyone. I heard the hype before I saw the film and I thought, “How good could it possibly be? She’s just some whippersnapper!” When I saw the film I was ready to hate her performance. Well, I was in for a surprise. Not only was she good, she was outstanding. In fact I find it upsetting that she is only being promoted for a supporting role when I think she should be right here with Portman, Bening and all of the other ladies being considered for lead. It is a real travesty.
  3. Noomi Rapace – The Girl Who Played with Fire
    I was disappointed with the movie, but she was out of this world. I cannot imagine that role being played by anyone else. She was beyond impressive.
  4. Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
    Another young lady and another amazing performance. Jennifer had to play a tough country girl who could not only shoot squirrels, but also had to gut and skin them. One of the best performances of an independent film that I have seen this year.
  5. Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
    I normally can’t stand Nicole Kidman. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. She’s a good actress, so I don’t know what my problem is. To be honest, I haven’t even seen “Rabbit Hole” yet, but I did see the trailer and a few scenes from the film. And what I have seen has really impressed me. The scene that I saw of her emoting about her dead son was very touching and powerful. I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

Best movies:

I can’t possibly put these movies in any order. They are all different and they are all great in their own ways. To say that one is better than the other just feels wrong.  These were my favorite movies of 2010:

  • 127 Hours
    Is a difficult movie to watch, but Franco’s performance is worth undergoing the agony.
  • Black Swan
    This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever seen. Darren Aronofsky is a Dog Gone genius!
  • The Fighter
    This is an amazing film. It’s rare that a film will be liked by both critics and movie goers, this is one of them. And the performances are unparalleled.
  • Inception
    In spite of all of its plot holes, Inception is one of the best rides of 2010. This is a great action flick and the music is out of this world.
  • Kick-Ass
    “Kick-Ass” just kicks ass. This movie is pure mayhem fun from start to finish. Who knew that a potty mouth, adorable, little girl who shreds bad guys with ninja weapons would ever make a great flick?
  • The King’s Speech
    This movie humanizes royalty and brings them down to our level. It is a gorgeous film both visually and verbally.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
    Like “Kick-Ass”, this movie is just plain fun and ingenious. It is one of the most unique film I have ever seen. It’s a must see for geeks and nerds and anyone who has ever played video games as a child.
  • The Social Network
    This movie is great dialog at its best. The writing of Aaron Sorkin is in a class by itself. It is like honey dripping from a delicate pastry dessert as you slowly bite into it.
  • True Grit
    Joel and Ethan Cohen do it again. I love their movies. They have such incredible talent for writing dialog and creating great and fun characters and “True Grit” was no exception.
  • Winter’s Bone
    This was one of those movies that it could have gone wrong in so many ways, but Debra Granik, writer and director, did a stupendous job at keeping an eye on the story and keeping things moving so that it would not stagnate. It is an almost flawless movie.

Can Rooney Mara Do Lisbeth Salander?

I am a huge fan of Swedish movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I thought that Noomi Rapace just nailed the part of Lisbeth. Who cares if she was older than the character in the book? In the Bourne books the character of Jason Bourne is supposed  to be an older man, but could you really imagine those movies doing well without Matt Damon? Neither can I. And the same goes for TGWTDT. I cannot picture this character played by any actress other than Noomi.

When I heard that David Fincher (Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is remaking and American version of TGWTDT my immediate reaction was that of suspicion and mixed feelings. Part of me thought it was great, maybe now I can finally understand what the hell they are saying. However another part of me thought, are they going to screw it up? I don’t want to prejudge. I hate it when people do, so I refuse to do the same thing. I am willing to give David a chance. When I heard that they had casted Carey Mulligan for the part, I was thrilled! I loved her in An Education; she was fantastic! I thought if anyone can pull this off it would be her. This piece of news calmed me down a lot. However, a few weeks later I heard some tragic news. Carey had backed out of the role and now they were left scratching their heads wondering who was going to fill in.

There were tons of rumors going around on the web about who would take the role of Lisbeth. I even heard that Emma Watson (Hermione of the Harry Potter series) was trying out for the part. Can you picture little Hermione doing a lesbian and a rape scene? I’m sure there some pervs out there that could, but not me. I was glad to hear that that was just a rumor. Of course there were other women who tried out for the role, but none really impressed me. When I heard that they had settled on Rooney Mara my first reaction was, “WHO?”

I have never seen her work. She’s this 25 year old newcomer that’s mostly done TV spots here and there. Her big break came with Youth in Revolt with Michael Cera which I have not yet seen. However, I did finally see her in a small role in The Social Network. In fact she starts off the movie with costar Jesse Eisenberg. I paid close attention because I wanted to see how good of an actress she was. I needed to know if she was capable of pulling this off, but more importantly is she going to do this role justice. I am not concerned about her doing a better job than Noomi. At this point I just want to see a decent performance. If the performance is great, AWESOME! However, I won’t hold my breath because what I saw in those first 15 minutes of The Social Network wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t earth shattering either. To be fair, that was a small role and we didn’t get to see much of Mara after that first scene, thus we didn’t really get to witness any real performance. Maybe she’ll do a good job, maybe not. I just hope that Fincher knows what he is doing. I am not a casting director, but I have one question. Did they even consider Anna Kendrick for the part? I think she’d be perfect for it!

Plans Have Changed!

It has been over 8 months since I first decided I was going to watch and review all 2009 movies. I started the project for several reasons: 1) to improve on my writing, 2) to improve on my planning skills, and 3) to practice and learn organizational skills. It has been an interesting project for me. At times it was very easy other times not so much. There were instances when words just came to me as easy as breathing other times I had to struggle to form a sentence. However I stuck with it and haven’t given up, until now.

Actually, I am not giving up entirely. I would love, for once, to finish something that I have started. That was part of my original goal also. However, I’ve recently got together with two good friends and we’ve taken up a little project of our own. I won’t divulge the context of that project just yet, let’s just say that we have put together a group of very creative people and we are in the process of developing a miniseries drama to be published on the web.

We have met several times now and we seem pretty serious about our commitment and the project. This is great news for me because I have always wanted to be part of the making of either a TV series or a movie. The bad news is that since we are so serious about our project this leaves me with little time to do anything else.

At first I thought I would be able to cut my viewing down to 4 movies a week, but that has not worked out at all. I just don’t have the time or the energy to tackle on such huge endeavors all at once. Since my movie goal is a personal one I’m afraid that will have to take a back seat so that I can put all my focus on the group project. However, I won’t quit entirely. Instead I’m going to try out reducing my film reviewing to 3 or less…2 or less per week. At this rate it’ll take me a long time to finish the project, but at least I will finish it and I’ll be able to say that I did something unique that I can be proud of.

I want to thank everyone who has followed and encouraged me in this undertaking, especially my wife Elizabeth whose input and help with my writing was invaluable to me. I will finish my project, but it’s going to take me longer than I had originally thought. So instead of writing 4 or 5 reviews I’ll only be publishing 2 or three at the most. Thank you all for your support. Enjoy!

Categories: Random Thoughts

Halfway There!

I am about to hit a milestone in my little project, the halfway mark! I am just under half of the 254 movies in my list. That is a 120 movies I’ve watched so far from 2009. There have been a few really dreadful movies like: Miss March, Land of the Lost, Not Forgotten, there are a few others, but thankfully most haven’t been that bad. There have been some really nice surprises too. There have been movies that I thought were going to be terrible or at best just okay, but I ended up liking quite a lot, like: The Merry Gentleman, Make the Yuletide Gay, The Girlfriend Experience, Dead Snow, and The Brother’s Bloom are among some of those films. I’m glad I watched them. Then there are those that I absolutely loved. The type of movies that makes me happy I made this goal part of my weekly routine. Sure, it’s a short list, but it’s quite a list. I absolutely love these films; they have snuck their way into my top 100 of all time and that is very difficult to do. Those movies are: The Hurt Locker, Avatar, Away We Go, Phoebe in Wonderland, Sunshine Cleaning, Sin Nombre and Precious. However, I am only halfway done. I still have a host of great movies to watch. The bad news is that there are still a pile of bad ones too. I hope and pray that some of those bad ones turn out to be nice surprises.

As for my enthusiasm about this project, it has been difficult these past few months. Between curling, the Olympics, the Oscars, and my editor being extremely busy with her own work, I am currently behind with my reviews by almost 40 movies. I have been really good at watching three or four movies on a weekly basis. However, writing my reviews has proven to be quite a challenge. The good news is that I think I have come to a point where I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t write on a daily basis and that was part of my goal, to try and develop a habit for writing. The bad news, not all my writing make it to the blog. Simply because most of it sucks! Thought, I think I am getting better and that is also part of my goal. So there is hope for me yet and I am hoping that I can start publishing more than just one or two reviews a week. As always, thank you all for reading my movie blog and for being part of my quest to improve myself.

Categories: Random Thoughts

The Worst of 2009

As it is always customary and as it has been done for 30 years now, movies are not only awarded for the best performances and achievements but they are also awarded for the worst. Presenting the worst
Hollywood had to offer this year are the Golden Raspberry Awards. You may have heard of the Oscars, but have you ever heard of the Razzies. Yes, the Razzies are awarded not to the best, but to the
worst and this year is nothing out of the ordinary. The Razzies are awarded a day before the Oscars. Unfortunately we’ll never get to see the speeches by these worst actors, directors and producers.
Maybe we’ll get lucky on YouTube. Without further ado, here are the nominations for this year’s Raspberry Awards:

Category Recipient
Worst Picture All About Steve (20th Century Fox)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Paramount/Hasbro)
Land of the Lost (Universal)
Old Dogs (Disney)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (DreamWorks/Paramount)
Worst Actor Will Ferrell in Land of the Lost
The Jonas Brothers in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
Steve Martin in The Pink Panther 2
Eddie Murphy in Imagine That
John Travolta in Old Dogs
Worst Actress Beyonce in Obsessed
Sandra Bullock in All About Steve
Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie
Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Sarah Jessica Parker in Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Worst Supporting Actor Billy Ray Cyrus in Hannah Montana: The Movie
Hugh Hefner in Miss March
Robert Pattinson in The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Jorma Taccone in Land of the Lost
Marlon Wayans in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Worst Supporting Actress Candice Bergen in Bride Wars
Ali Larter in Obsessed
Sienna Miller in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Kelly Preston in Old Dogs
Julie White in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Worst Screen Couple Any two (or more) Jonas Brothers (as themselves) in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
Sandra Bullock (as Mary) and Bradley Cooper (as Steve) in All About Steve
Will Ferrell and any co-star, creature or “comic riff” in Land of the Lost
Shia LaBeouf (as Sam) and either Megan Fox or any Transformer in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Kristen Stewart (as Bella Swan) and either Taylor Lautner (as Jacob) or Robert Pattinson (as Edward Cullen) in The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Land of the Lost
The Pink Panther 2
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Worst Director Michael Bay for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Walt Becker for Old Dogs
Brad Silberling for Land of the Lost
Stephen Sommers for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Phil Traill for All About Steve
Worst Screenplay All About Steve (written by Kim Barker)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (screenplay by Stuart Beattie and David Elliot & Paul Lovett; story by Michael B. Gordon and Beattie & Stephen Sommers, based on the comic book by Larry Hama)
Land of the Lost (written by Chris Henchy & Dennis McNicholas; based on the television series created by Sid and Marty Krofft)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (written by Ehren Kruger & Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg; based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer)
Worst of the Decade
Worst Actor of the Decade Ben Affleck for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor and Surviving Christmas
Eddie Murphy for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit and Showtime
Mike Myers for The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru
Rob Schneider for The Animal, The Benchwarmers, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Grandma’s Boy, The Hot Chick, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Little Man and Little Nicky
John Travolta for Battlefield Earth, Domestic Disturbance, Lucky Numbers, Old Dogs and Swordfish
Worst Actress of the Decade Mariah Carey for Glitter
Paris Hilton for The Hottie and the Nottie, House of Wax and Repo! The Genetic Opera
Lindsay Lohan for Herbie: Fully Loaded, I Know Who Killed Me and Just My Luck
Jennifer Lopez for Angel Eyes, Enough, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law and The Wedding Planner
Madonna for Die Another Day, The Next Best Thing and Swept Away
Worst Picture of the Decade Battlefield Earth (2000, Warner Bros.) (“winner” of 7 2001)
Freddy Got Fingered (2001, 20th Century Fox) (“winner” of 5 2002)
Gigli (2003, Columbia) (“winner” of 6 2004)
I Know Who Killed Me (2007, TriStar) (“winner” of 8 2008)
Swept Away (2002, Screen Gems) (“winner” of 5 2003)
Categories: Random Thoughts

Could Avatar Win Best Picture at the Oscars?

Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron

Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron

Yahoo! Movies wrote an interesting article about how they thought that some entertainers were “snubbed” by the Academy this year. While I agree with a lot of what they are saying, I strongly disagree with some of the other points they tried to make. It is true, this year it seems like it has been a battle between The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Ironically or perhaps not so ironically, the two directors of these movies were once husband and wife. It’s comical for me that once again they are battling it out, but this time they are doing it with their work.

If you haven’t seen The Hurt Locker you should probably rent it right now. It is my opinion and the opinion of many out there that this is perhaps one of the best war movies ever done. The acting is incredible, the story is gripping and moving and it is extremely realistic.

If you haven’t seen Avatar, then you should crawl from under your rock and go see it immediately because it is one of the most visually stunning movies ever to be made. However, does that make Avatar worth a Best Picture nomination? I strongly disagree. Avatar is a good movie, but it is not a great movie. It has a decent story and a great message, plus the Vatican hates it, what more do you want? However, the screenplay of Avatar is your typical James Cameron screenplay, somewhere between crap and not bad. So I strongly disagree with Yahoo! that the Academy snubbed James in that category. He doesn’t deserve a Best Screenplay nomination and let’s face it, he doesn’t deserve a Best Picture nomination either, but I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with that decision. I’ll agree with Best Director, yes! Best Cinematography, yes and Yahoo! make a great point about Zoe Saldana for Best Leading Actress, absolutely! Thank God that the Academy had some sense not to nominate James for Best Screenplay.

Once again The Hurt Locker and Avatar will be putting on their gloves and entering the ring. It’s been an ugly fight between the two, both landing some really great punches. Both movies have been nominated for a number of different awards in many different venues and it seems like anything goes. When I watched the Golden Globes I nearly fell off my chair to hear that they selected Avatar for best picture. I hope to all that is good and holy that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science does not make that mistake or I will have some serious doubts about its credibility from then on. Come March 7, let any movie in the list of nominees win as long as it’s not Avatar. Of course if it were up to me I would give that Oscar to The Hurt Locker right this minute without any reservations.

Adams Proposes to Regis

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