Top Ten Movies of 2016

2016

To be honest, it took me sometime to realize that there were actually some really good movies to be released in 2016. So much so that the pictures you see above of movies like Sully, Hacksaw Ridge, Captain America: Civil WarMoana, Jackie, and Zootopia were not able to crack my top ten list.

Again, I don’t see every movie that was released (how I wish I could!), so please comment if I am missing one you liked.

A friend of mine said he does not like making lists like this, as they get harder to do every year. I am starting to get the idea of that more and more as the years go by. Some of the movies on my top ten edged each other out by the narrowest of margins.

If you must blink, do it now…

 

10.

10-hell-or-high-water

Playing like a modernized version of an old western, Hell or High Water is refreshing in how original the concept is. Two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster), desperate to keep their farm, resort to stealing from banks. Hot on their trail is the local nearly retired police sheriff Marcus Hamilton (a wonderful Jeff Bridges), who we don’t always root for when we see what the brothers (mainly the Chris Pine character) are going through.

 

9.9-arrival

Sorry fans of Rogue One, but the title of best sci-fi movie of the year belongs to Arrival. Clearly inspired from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, the movie  depicts how being approached by beings outside of earth would not always immediately mean war fare. The movie takes time to show that we as humans need to reason before pulling a trigger. All the cast is wonderful, but the key performance is the one of Amy Adams, showing once again how versatile an actress she is. Director Denis Villeneuve gives us some stunning images as well.

 

8.

8-the-vvitch

 

It is rare for a horror film to actually scare you these days, especially if it comes out very early in the year (which is when most of the forgettable movies are sadly released.) That is not all the case for The Witch. While witches are now nearly forever associated with the world created by J.K. Rowling, this horror classic reminds us that, when witchcraft was feared in the 1600s, it was truly feared. The images and gorgeous cinematography reflect that, making us fear as the characters do. The film is directed by Robert Eggers. Remember the name.

 

7.7-moonlight

A movie sure to be up for many Oscar nominations, Moonlight tells a simple story of a man growing up in slums of Miami. To say it is more than that is a gross understatement. Told in three acts, I am still finding it hard to believe that the main character, Chiron, was played by three different actors (the same can also be said of his friend Kevin). It was almost like they filmed the same actor years apart like Boyhood. The stand outs are Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, sure to be nominees in February (alongside director Barry Jenkins).

6.

6-manchester-by-the-sea

While some movies feel like a punch in the gut, Manchester by the Sea feels like (as Rick Blaine from Casablanca would say) your “insides have been kicked out.” Casey Affleck gives a mesmerizing performance as a janitor who is sent back to his hometown after his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies to take care of his nephew (an equally stunning Lucas Hedges) while face the demons of his past, including his ex-wife (the always reliable Michelle Williams). How often does a drama of this magnitude also produce laughs equivalent to a comedy? Kudos to the writer and director, Kenneth Lonergan.

5.

5-fences

It has been a while since I have seen a great film where the lead actor also directs himself in a performance for the ages. Yet that is what Denzel Washington does in Fences, based off the play by August Wilson. Casey Affleck may be the front-runner for Best Actor, but Denzel is clearly hot on his heels. However, no one will be catching up with Viola Davis in the Best Supporting Actress category, for her performance as Washington’s wife is sure to give Davis her Oscar she deserves.

4.

4-silence

Moving from an actor/director to arguably one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, Martin Scorsese’s Silence just squeaked in at the end of 2016, meaning it was not screened in time for award consideration for the Golden Globes or SAGs. A shame, because it deserved to be. The film stars Andrew Garfield (who was also brilliant in Hacksaw Ridge) and Adam Driver (aka Kylo Ren) as priests trying to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) in 1630s Japan. The movie is hard to watch, yet you still can’t take your eyes from the screen. It is rare for a movie to be so difficult to observe you may not want to watch it again, yet at the same time filled with unanswered questions that multiple viewings are needed.

3.

3-life-animated

As someone who has (mild) autism, I can safely say I have not seen many films that approached the subject as well as the documentary Life, Animated. It tells the story of Owen Suskind, an autistic man who learned to communicate through his true love, animated Disney movies. Very few movies this year have touched me more on a personal level.

2.

2-la-la-land

 

If you have not heard of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land by now, well, it will be surely mentioned when the Oscar nominations are announced next Tuesday, for I feel it is the clear front-runner for Best Picture (it already set the record at the Golden Globes for winning all of it’s seven nominations). It is more than a love letter to Hollywood, or even to musicals of the past. It is a modernized musical as well, with glamorous performances by Ryan Gosling and (in particular) Emma Stone (her solo song at the end about her aunt is the best acting I have seen all year). I have no shame at all in declaring I bought the soundtrack the day after I saw this film. It made me proud to be one of the ones who dream.

 

1.1-kubo

At the end of the day, movies are stories, as told by many story tellers. When I first saw Kubo and the Two Strings, I was clearly affected by it, but did not know at the time that I would be selecting it as my favorite movie of 2016. Only months later, when I got on Blu-Ray was when I realized it more and more as a masterpiece. Of course, the animation is gorgeous, but what impressed me the most was the story. Laika (whose movies I still have to see) does not have the history and resume of Disney or Pixar, but it has more nerve. I found myself hoping Kubo would not end the way the audience would have wanted, and it didn’t. It ended the way the audience needed it to. Towards the end, Kubo gives a speech to his grandfather while in the cemetery. If you think of it, that speech is one to bring hope to those who may not have had the best 2016 they would have wished for.

 

 

The five disappointing movies of 2016

2016-worst

As of this moment, I am not a paid film critic, so I am not able to see all the movies I want, or even the ones I would have to suffer through (Though I do like to sit through a few pieces of trash, just so I can bad mouth them). That being said, not all of these films are what I would actually call bad, but disappointing.

In other words, here are the five most disappointing movies of 2016…

 

5.

Race

 

Jesse Owens was an athlete who gave 110% and became an athletic American icon and legend. Sadly, those who made the film Race did not give that amount of effort (at most they only gave 50%), and it shows all the poor results on-screen.

 

4.

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice

While Suicide Squad was indeed disappointing, it was not as bad as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ben Affleck (the one everyone thought would be the worst part) was great as Batman, but the story was all set up and little pay off. That, and Jesse Eiseberg (a talented guy, no doubt) giving a very bad and awkward performance as Lex Luthor.

3.

Me Before You

I so badly wanted to like Me Before you, I really did. Despite a likable Emilia Clarke, the story makes us believe that these characters can stick with the choices they make, and they are not at all for one minute.

 

2.

BenHur2016

It is no secret that, when it comes to remakes, the outcome is normally not going to be good. In the case of Ben-Hur, saying it is not good is a gross understatement. It is totally unneed, bland, and beyond boring.

 

1.

Independence Day Resurgence

The poster read “We had 20 years to prepare. So did they.” In the case of Indendence Day; Resurgence, no one could have prepared us for a movie so by the books, so inconsistent with the original, so extraordinarily long, and, above all, so much an utter piece of crap.

2016 Half Time Report

Ok, so the first half of any year is really never  better than the second half when it comes to movies. Still, these are the best (and worst) at the half way point (of the ones I have seen)…

The Best

 

5. Zootopia

Even if the funniest part of the film was in the original trailer, it is still a great family film.

4. The Jungle Book

Entertaining, thrilling, and very realistic, it stands alone from the great animated film as it’s own great film.

3. Hail, Caesar!

The Coens do it again, with another stellar cast that tells a story of fiction that seems like it really did happen. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. Then again, it is the Coens. A great movie about making movies.

2. Captain America: Civil War

I had no idea I would like it as much as I did. It is one of the most fun I have had at a superhero film in some time.

1. The Witch

It is rare for me to like a current horror film, so it is near unimaginable that I would call a horror film the best film of the year so far. Then again, that is what The Witch is: Rare, and unimaginable. And Scary.

 

The Worst

 

3. Race

Another biographical sports flick, it is not the movie that should have been made about Jesse Owens. It barely gets close to the bronze.

 

2. Me before you

I was so wanting to like this movie. It looked like it had potential. Then I saw it…(sigh)…

 

1. Independence Day: Resurgence

It took me a few days after I saw it to come up with a new name for it: ReTURDgence. Trademarked.

 

The second half of 2016 is upon us…movie wise…

 

 

Oscar Best Picture Winners: The Best of the Best (2017)

 

0oscars

Seeing all the Best Picture winners in history is not all that hard. All you need is time and a love for movies.

Ok, some are bad, but they still make you realize how great movies can be.

I also plan on doing this once a year, not only to add the newest best picture winner, but because my thoughts may change (not really for the top films or bottom films, but those in the middle). No, I have yet to see every Best Picture nominee (which would be a big time consumer), but some years I did see enough to know if the choice was right or not.

And the Oscar goes to…

 

89.

The English Patient

It is not the longest film to ever win best picture, but The English Patient (1996) easily seems like the longest. The story of a nurse (Juliette Binoche, who won an oscar for Supporting Actress and does a fine job here) who hears the story of a love story that is beyond boring (unlike films it beat, mainly Fargo). Elaine Benes from “Seinfeld” was right about this film.

Parents: Not for kids. Sexuality and violence.

88.

The Broadway Melody

One of the first musicals (and talkies), The Broadway Melody (1929) suffers mainly because it was in the first years of talkies, when Hollywood was still working with the new technology. It reminds me a little too much of the film they were failing to make in the film Singin’ in the Rain.

Parents: Ok for kids, but it may bore them.

 

87.

The Greatest Show on Earth

 

Considered one of the worst Best Picture winners, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) does look nice, but the story of a circus behind the scenes is anything but Great (yes, that is James Stewart next to Charlton Heston as a clown). It is certaintly not better than High Noon or (even though it was sadly not even nominated) Singin’ in the Rain.

Parents: It is ok for kids.

86.gigi.jpg

A nice looking movie, with nice costumes, surrounded by a creepy story, Gigi (1958) is like a nice looking apple with worms on the inside. It is a musical, but with only one song that is ok.

Parents: It is ok, but not something they would really like.

85.

Cimarron

The first Western to win Best Picture, Cimarron (1931) tells an ok story, but is easily forgettable. It is no where near as good as another film from 1931 (even though it was not nominated), Charlie Chaplin’s uncanny masterpiece City Lights.

Parents: Ok for children, but I feel they will be bored.

84.

American Beauty

I don’t feel like American Beauty (1999) has aged entirely as well as some would have hoped. It has great acting, but the film about a man having a mid life crisis has far too many creepy moments in it that makes you feel a little uncomfortable, unlike better movies like The Green Mile.

Parents: Not, I repeat, NOT for kids. A lot of sexual stuff.

83.

Tom Jones

Albert Finney is a great actor and does fine work here as the title character, but Tom Jones (1963) is supposed to be funny and (while I know comedy is subjective) it really isn’t. It is a tad creepy. Unlike Lillies of the Field.

Parents: Not really for kids.

82.

Out of Africa

 

Out of Africa (1985) does give us a decent Robert Redford performance and a wonderful performance by Meryl Streep (no surprise). What is a surprise is how bland the movie feels. It is no match nowadays for Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, which was left empty handed at the Oscars, still a travesty.

Parents: Nothing too bad, but I doubt kids would like it.

 

81.

Around the world in 80 Years

David Niven is pitch perfect as the man who wants to travel what the title says, but Around the World in 80 Days (1956) is full of wonderful sights with too simple a story to take seriously. Also, as a fan of Frank Sinatra, it was a big downer to see him in the film for nearly seven seconds.

Parents: Ok for kids, if they can pay attention that long.

80.

The Great Ziegfeld

Despite being long and a little predictable, The Great Ziegfeld (1936) is worth watching for the performances, mainly Best Actress winner Luise Rainer who is glamourous and transcendent. Still, I think I liked San Francisco better.

Parents: Again, it is ok for kids if they can stand the length.

79.

The Life of Emile Zola

The first half is very hard to sit through, but the second half of The Life of Emile Zola (1937) has the actual story to it. Paul Muni also does a wonderful job in the title role.

Parents: Nothing wrong here for kids.

78.

Shakespeare in Love

You would be hardpressed to find anyone who likes Shakespeare in Love (1998) more than Saving Private Ryan (or even Life is Beautiful), but it does not make SIL any worse. Paltrow is very good here as well in the role that got her an Oscar. Still, a horrible shame it won over Saving Private Ryan.

Parents: Not for kids.

77.

Midnight Cowboy

One of the strangest on this list, Midnight Cowboy (1969) does feature career performances (mainly Dustin Hoffman), but I still admit to being a huge fan of Butch Cassidey and the Sundance Kid.

Parents: NOT FOR KIDS (At the time of this film, it was rated X).

76. Cavalcade

A basic melodrama, Calvalcade (1933) does tend to drag at times, but the performances of the time do a nice job.

Parents: Ok for kids.

75. An American in Paris

Their next film, Singin’ in the Rain (this is the third time I mentioned it so I think it is obvious I am fan), is far better. Still, An American in Paris (1951) has director Stanley Donen and star Gene Kelly giving great visuals and masterful dancing. Not bad, even though A Streetcar named Desire and The African Queen (not nominated) were better.

Parents: Ok for kids.

74.

A Man for All Seasons

Though it is very slow at times, A Man for all Seasons (1966) has fine acting (mainly Best Actor winner Paul Scofield) about a man who sticks to his guns, no matter what.

Parents: Ok for kids.

73.

Hamlet

Despite a great feel of the period and being a great example of an actor (Laurence Olivier) directing himself, Hamlet (1948) does not live up to another movie from the same year, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is far superior.

Parents: Ok for kids

72.

The Last Emperor

Another example of beauty over substance, The Last Emperor (1987) is a grand looking flick with lots of eye popping visuals. Too bad the story is on one level, unlike other films that year like The Untouchables or Moonstruck.

Parents: Not for kids (some nudity, plus they will be bored)

71.

Gladiator

I will probably get colorful feedback for this one. Afterall, I was in middle school when Gladiator (2000) came out, and I loved it back then. Now, a decade and a half later, it still has its moments (meaning yes, Maximus, I am still somewhat entertained),  but it wears thin after a while. Admittedly, it is not as good as the years other nominees, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Traffic.

Parents: High School and above.

70.

Wings

The original best picture winner, Wings (1927) does drag on at times. Still, it does have some really nicely done fight scenes (especially considering the time it was made). Also, it is the first Best Picture winner, so that alone is still kind of cool.

Parents: One (very brief) glimpse of nudity, but that is it.

69.

 

 

Mrs. Miniver

A nice potrayel of the beginning of World War Two, Mrs. Miniver (1942) is mainly known not for its performances (which include Oscar winners Greer Garson and the always lovable Teresa Wright), but for what happend on Oscar night. Garson gave the longest speech in Oscar history, nearly six minutes long.

Parents: Ok for kids.

68.

All the King's Men

While it is not the best movie ever made about politics (that will always be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939), All the King’s Men (1949) is still one every politician should see. The acting is stellar, and it is a reminder that corruption is as easy to pick up in politics as ever.

Parents: Ok for kids

67.

Gandhi

There is no doubt in my mind that Gandhi (1982) gives a stellar Ben Kingsley performance that makes you think it is actually the real life activist has come back to life. Still, it does drag on at times, and is no where near as engrossing (let alone popular) as E.T. is.

Parents: Ok for kids, if they can stand the run time (should be watched in High School).

66.

The Deer Hunter

Coming out at just the right time, The Deer Hunter (1978) does go on a bit long. However, it does have great scenes including a wedding scene to inspire all wedding scenes, and, of course, Russian Roulette.

Parents: Not for kids, in anyway shape or form.

65.

Gentleman's Agreement

Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947) does give us a great performance by Gregory Peck and (Oscar winner) Celeste Holm. It is also one of the best films made about anti-semitism. Still, it is probably not as well known now as Miracle on 34th Street.

Parents: Ok for kids

64.

Birdman

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014) is definetly a film for the ages (the first to seem like it was done in a long take since Hitchcock’s Rope). The performances are uncanny throughout, though I still feel Boyhood is the better movie.

Parents: Not really for kids, though High Schoolers may be ok.

63.

Rebecca

While it is certainly not the director’s best film, Rebecca (1940) is the only film of Alfred Hitchcock to win Best Picture. It does build suspense, provides acting greats like Olivier and Fontaine, and has a delicious villian in Mrs. Danvers. I do not think, however, it is as good as The Grapes of Wrath.

Parents: Suspenseful (of course) but not too bad for kids.

62.

spotlight

Despite only winning two Oscars (Best Picture and Best Screenplay), what makes Spotlight (2015) so engrossing is how tightly sealed the scrip is (as well as every actor on their A game). Sure, it is not as good as All the President’s Men (the Citizen Kane of journalism movies), but it ranks up there.

Parents: The subject matter is far too intense for kids.  High School and above.

61.

Sunrise A Tale of Two Humans

At the first Academy Awards, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1929) won Best Picture in the catagory of Unique and Artistic Production, the only time that catagory exhisted. Still, these days critics tend to like it more because of its authentic artistry that is standing the test of time a little better than Wings.

Parents: Ok for kids

60.

The Lost Weekend

Still the best film made about drinking, The Lost Weekend (1945) shows one of the best examples of a character battling their desires ever shown on film (thanks, of course, to the Oscar winning performance by Ray Milland). The imagery he sees are rather frightening.

Parents: May be a bit intense for kids.

59.

All Quiet on the Western Front

While it was not the first war film ever made, the invention of sound in movies did help All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) stand the test of time. I would argue it is still the best film ever made about World War One, and still has images that will make you quiver.

Parents: It is a war film, but because of when it was made, it is not terribly violent.

58.

Driving Miss Daisy

 

I am still a bigger fan of Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, and My Left Foot, yet there is still something endearing about Driving Miss Daisy (1989). It must be the undeniable chemistry between Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.

Parents: Ok for kids, though there is some swearing.

57.

Mutiny on the Bounty

Although Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) only won Best Picture and nothing else, it stil does a nice job of being entertaining thanks to Gable and Laughton as one of cinema’s best bad guys. Still, I would rather watch Top Hat.

Parents: Ok for kids

56.

The Departed

Even if Goodfellas and Raging Bull are better movies in the long run, it was The Departed (2006) that finally brought Martin Scorsese the Oscar for Best Director. The story of mobsters has multiple layers and fine acting by all in the cast. I do still feel Little Miss Sunshine was better though.

Parents: Definetly not for kids.

55.

Going my Way

Going My Way (1944) may not be the main thing Bing Crosby is known for nowadays, but he definetly shines as Father O’Malley for which he won an Oscar for Best Actor. His co-star Barry Fitzgerald was also nominated in that catagory, but won for the same performance in the supporting actor catagory. I still need to find out how that worked out.

Parents: It is ok for kids.

54.

The French Connection

 

One of the more heart pounding films on this list, The French Connection (1971) is what shot Gene Hackman to film immortality. His Popeye Doyle is one character you better not have against you, especially in a car chase.

Parents: Not for kids.

53.

How Green was my Valley

I can’t help but feel sorry for How Green was my Valley (1941). Truly, it is a rather good movie. The problem is that it beat out compitition at the Oscars that are far better than it. Films like The Maltese Falcon, considered the first (and best) film noir in history. Or that other movie, Citizen Kane.

52.

Oliver!

Oliver! (1968) was the last musical to win Best Picture in the 20th Century, and does not get the praise I feel it deserves. It is funny, charming, scary (Bill Sykes is creepy as heck), and delivers great numbers.

Parents: Ok for kids.

51.

Terms of Endearment

Even though I would prefer The Right Stuff and Tender Mercies, there is no denying the emotional power of Terms of Endearment (1983). Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger are perfect as mother and daughter, and no womazing neighbor could be played better than anyone not named Jack Nicholson. It also has a tearjerker scene for the ages.

Parents: Not really for kids

50.

The Kings Speech

While others prefered The Social Network (a very good film) , The King’s Speech (2010) was more entertaining for me. No small part goes to the acting (Colin Firth is spellbinding, and Geoffrey Rush is equally brilliant), about a simple story of someone who has a stuttering problem (mind you, he is a king). Still, my favorite movie of that year was Winter’s Bone.

Parents: There is one 30 second scene of swearing, and another of 5-10 seconds,  but that is it. Really, just fast forward through it, and you are ok.

49.

The-Bridge-Of-The-River-Kwai-1957

 

If you bring up the name Alec Guinness to anyone nowadays, they would most likely remember him at Obi-Wan Kenobi from the original Star Wars. After that, it would be his Oscar winning role as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). It will be difficult seeing anyone else in the role. As for the film itself, while I do like 12 Angry Men better, there is no denying the gravity epic scape of this film.

Parents: May be a bit long for kids, but nothing too horrilbe.

48.

DF-02238.CR2

 

12 Years a Slave (2013) is easily one of the hardest films to watch on this list, but also one of the most important. It is one of those films you don’t watch as much as you can, but it is one that stays with you for the remainder of your life. All the actors are masterful here (mainly Oscar winner Lupita N’Yongo in her first film role).

Parents: Quite a bit of nudity, and the subject matter clearly makes it not for kids. Still, when you children get mature enough (High School or College) they should see the film.

47.

Grand Hotel

In a way, Grand Hotel (1932) was a trend setter. It was the original all star cast film (Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, John and Lionel Barrymore) that did not just rely on star power. It relied on stellar acting and a wonderful story. Fun Fact: The film also stared Jean Hersholt, who was later given a special Oscar for which now bears his name.

46.

In the heat of the night

 

Winning over films like Guess who’s coming to Dinner and The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night (1967) was a film for its time, a film about the tensions of racism (which, of course, still resonates today. While Rod Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar, it is easily Sidney Poitier you will remember as Virgil Tibbs (though that is not what people always call him).

Parents: High School and above, as this is when nudity started showing up more and more in movies.

45.

Titanic

 

I was in my preteens when Titanic (1997) came out (though I never saw it in theaters). I knew it was a big film when I saw it (and that there was a drawing scene). It was also what truly got me into the Oscars in the first place, so I owe it that.

Parents: There is the famous nude scene to avoid, and some swearing. Only High School and above.

44.

Ordinary People

Next to Raging Bull, Ordinary People (1980) is obviously not the clear winner. Still, the film by Robert Redford does tell a very intriguing story with acting you will remember. Mainly, it is Oscar Winner Timothy Hutton who gives a performance almost as perfect as Raging Bull‘s Robert De Niro. Almost.

Parents: The film is R rated for swearing. High School and above.

43.

Chicago

I can’t say how much I liked Chicago (2002) when it came out in theaters. I loved it. It is one of a few movies I have seen four times in the theater (my personal record). True, The Pianist was a better film, but seldom has a movie come out in theaters that I had a lot of true fun at.

Parents: It is a musical, but not for kids. High School and above.

42.

The Artist

 

The Artist (2011) made my job of telling people what movies to see and not see a lot easier. It reminded us all that films are not just about what you may or may not hear, but about what you feel. That, plus the movie has one heck of an awesome dog.

Parents: This has one “obsene gesture” (someone uses the middle finger) but that is it. The film is ok for kids.

41.

Platoon

Easily one of the best war films ever made, Platoon (1986) has about more grit than almost any film every made. This is thanks to director Oliver Stone (who was in the Vietnam War), and sums up the film perfectly with the line on the poster: The first casualty of war is innocence.

Parents: Definetly not for kids (some nudity is shown but not for long), but should be watched at some point when they are in High School.

40.

A Beautiful Mind

Russell Crowe may have won the Oscar for Gladiator, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks it was a better performance than the one he gave in A Beautiful Mind (2001). The film is centered mainly on his performance (as well as Oscar Winner Jennifer Connelly’s as his wife). Now a random question: He is obviously a genius, but how on earth did he get those biceps? Just wondering.

Parents: Some sexual talk and swearing, but nothing else. Middle School and above would be ok.

39.

Argo

 

In one of the best years for film, it was Argo (2012) that took the prize. It was a story that (at least for me) was not well known (at least compared to other movies that year like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty), it was directed by an actor (which the Oscars like to reward a lot, despite the director not getting a nomination which is still a big question mark today), and it was (most importantly) entertaining as can be.

Parents: High School and above only.

38.

The Lord of the Rings The Return of the King

 

I never read the books till I saw the first film, but I had a feeling that Peter Jackson was saving the best for last. That is exactly what happend with The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King (2003). It is a spectacle that is hard to ignore (even if great performances by Sean Astin and Viggo Mortensen were). Some could argue it won all of it’s 11 nominations (a record for a perfect score) for the trilogy as a whole, but the film is still easily the best of the whole series (including The Hobbit films, which I thought were just so so).

Parents: Some scary moments, but films your kids would want to see. Still, start with the first films or they will definetly be confused.

37.

No Country for Old Men

There are few filmmakers as diverse as the Coen brothers, and it was their film No Country for Old Men (2007) that brought them each three Oscars (for directing, writing, and producing). It is terrifying (Javier Bardem gives us the best villian of the 21st century), enticing (Bardem is the scene stealer, but every actor is on their A game here), and thought provoking (I still have yet to find out what I feel about the ending). Also, don’t forget some of that awkward humor (the cordroys that Josh Brolin returns to the store with has me laughing every time).

Parents: Another film not for kids. No real nudity (some talk about sex) but it is a really dark, violent film. High School and above.

36.

The Hurt Locker

It is the lowest money maker of all Best Picture winners (it’s competition that year was Avatar, which is still the biggest world wide money maker), but The Hurt Locker (2009) is a better film. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (who was once married to James Cameron), it is as real a war film as you will ever see. I still feel like it is the type of film fans of first person shooter games would love. It is a film that should be shown to anyone even remotely interested in enlisting.

Parents: High School and above only.

35.

Unforgiven

Unforgiven (1992) is Clint Eastwood’s love letter to the Western. Like all of the films Eastwood directs, it is a simple story with multiple layers that have unforgettable characters. Their are a lot of tough guy actors, but seldom have there been any as memorable as Clint Eastwood. No man on screen has ever looked as scary holding a gun.

Parents: Not for kids, but should be ok for High Schoolers (a brief sex scene at the start, but no nudity).

34.

The Silence of the Lambs

 

JFK is one of my all time favorite movies, but the Academy went insteaad with another masterpiece, The Silence of the Lambs (1991). One of three films to win the top five Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay), it set a new standard for horror that many these days are trying to duplicate but none really have (to be fair, it is hard to top a villian like Hannibal Lecter).

Parents: High School and above. No one else under that age group.

33.

Rain Man

 

Rain Man (1988) is what most people think of when they think of autism. Dustin Hoffman is the one with the showier role (he won his second Oscar for the performance), but Tom Cruise does equally fine work as his brother. Still, it was not as intoxicating to me as Mississippi Burning.

Parents: There is one brief sex scene (and brief nudity), but the R rating is mainly for language. High School and above.

32.

Slumdog Millionaire

 

Probably my favorite thing about the first time I saw Slumdog Millionaire (2008) was that I knew next to nothing about the film. It is almost Capra-like in the way it tells the fairy tale story of how fighting for the one you love,  no matter what, is really wonderful. That, and an awesome ending dance number.

Parents: There is no real sex scenes, just swearing and some violence. I would think Middle School and above.

31.

The Sting

The Sting (1973) was the first encounter I had with it’s two stars, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Each are as charming as ever, and it is their presence alone that makes the film worth watching. That, and awesome music.

Parents: There is some swearing, and one scene of nudity (a strip show type of thing), but that is it. Skip that scene, and middle school and above.

30.

Braveheart

Although Apollo 13 is a better movie, Braveheart (1995) still holds a nice place in my heart. It was the first hard rated R film I saw (though obviously not in the theater, as I was only eight at the time). True, it is known to have historical innaccuracies (a lot of movies do), but it is still entertaining as ever. It is also proof that, regardless of his personal life, Mel Gibson knows how to make a movie.

Parents: High School and above only. There is one scene of nudity, but nothing explicit.

29.

Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur (1959) is a remake of a 1925 film that is easily more remembered. It is long, but it is carried by a performance by Charlton Heston, great sweeping images, and a chariot race that has never been matched. The scene where he first meets Jesus is the best biblical scene ever put on film.

Parents: It is long, and full of some violence, but middle school and above are fine.

28.

Patton

It is hard for one actor/actress to carry a film, but George C. Scott does that and more as the title character of Patton (1970). It does go on long, but every time Scott is on screen, you can’t help but smile.

Parents: Some violence but nothing bad. Middle schoolers and above, provided they can stand a long movie.

27.

Kramer vs Kramer

I am going out on a limb here: I think Dustin Hoffman gives his best performance in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). He plays one of the most relatable fathers in movie history, and Meryl Streep is equally good as his ex wife. Of course, there is no doubt it is not as good a movie as Apocalypse Now.

Parents: There is a scene of nudity, a little violence, and swearing. High School and above.

 

 

26.

Crash

Yes, I really did like the film Crash (2005). I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I do. It has great acting (which no one can deny), and it is about the characters more so than the story. I still like it more than Brokeback Mountain (which I still feel is a little overrated, though Heath Ledger was magnificent).

Parents: A sex scene (with nudity), a ton of swearing, and violence. High School and above.

25.

Amadeus

Movies are not the best source for accurate details (except for Documentaries), but are awesome at entertaining. That is what makes Amadeus (1984) so wonderful. If you are looking for accurate facts,  you won’t find many. If you want entertainment, you sure as heck will.

Parents: The extended version has nudity, while the normal (PG) version does not. Either way, I would say High Schoolers and above.

24.

From Here to Eternity

When I saw the preview for the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, I thought it looked like sure oscar bait (I was 14 and stupid). Later, I discovered From Here to Eternity (1953), and what a good movie about Pearl Harbor can be.

Parents: Aside from the beach scene (which is not that bad at all), middle schoolers and above would be fine.

23.

Chariots of Fire

I am a bigger fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark and On Golden Pond. Still, there is something very uplifting about Chariots of Fire (1981). Mainly, it is the way the story is told, and that immortal music that has been parodied to death.

Parents: Ok for kids.

22.

Million Dollar Baby

Regardless of whether you agree with the ending. you have to love how Clint Eastwood got there. His Million Dollar Baby (2004) is one of the best sports films ever made. Each of the three main actors are at the top of their games, and it gives us the best Morgan Freeman scene ever.

Parents: It is difficult to watch at times, so I would think High School and above (or at least really mature Middle Schoolers).

 

21.Dances with Wolves

First, the obvious. Goodfellas is far better of a movie. Even so, Dances with Wolves (1990) gets bad raps for beating it. It is still glorious to behold, and deserves more love. It is gritty, realistic, and deserving of respect.

Parents: High School and above (and they should see it).

20.

Forrest Gump

In one of the best years for movies, it must have been difficult to pick Forrest Gump (1994) over better flicks like Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Still, the Tom Hanks film (which he is remembered for most) was the first real “drama” I had seen in my life. It still touches the heart every time I watch it.

Parents: Middle School and above.

19.

All about Eve

It must have been a hard choice to choose between All about Eve (1950) and Sunset Blvd. I do prefer the latter, but the former is still wonderful entertainment. With stars like Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, and Mariyln Monroe, it indeed is a bumpy night of enjoyment.

Parents: Middle School and above. Any younger would get bored.

 

18.

The Best years of our lives

It’s a Wonderful Life is loved by pretty much anyone who has seen it, but it lost to another great movie, The Best Years of our Lives (1946). No film about return soldiers has topped it, and while all the actors are great, the best is Harold Russell, an actual war veteran.

17.You can't take it with you.jpg

Bette Davis was wonderful in Jezebel, as was Spencer Tracy in the wonderful Boys Town. Also, color films were in the arena with films like The Adventures of Robin Hood. Still, You Can’t Take it with You (1938) is definetly one of Frank Capra’s best. I smiled the whole way through. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling you won’t forget.

Parents: Ok for kids.

16.The Sound of Music

Although it was dubbed “the sound of mucus” by film critic Pauline Kael, The Sound of Music (1965) is one of the most loved films ever made. Even the hardest hearted person can’t help but get the songs in their head.

Parents: Easily, this is the first Best Picture any kid should start with.

15.

My Fair Lady

Extravegent is the best word to describe My Fair Lady (1964). Even if Audrey Hepburn does not do her own singing, she give a beautiful performance. Also, no one can ever be Henry Higgins like Rex Harrison. No one. It is hard to find a favorite song here, but mine would be “I  could have danced all night”. Not bad for a movie that beat Mary Poppins and Dr. Strangelove.

Parents: A little long, but ok for kids.

 

14.

One flew over the cuckoo's nest

When one looks at One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), one sees how it would have been a totally differennt movie. Heck, it would have been horrible without Jack Nicholson and Louise Rainer. It became the second film to win all five top Oscars, and is also what every movie should be in the first place: Enjoyable.

Parents: High School and above.

13.

West Side Story

West Side Story (1961) was the first musical film I saw after seeing the stage version. It was my chance at seeing how a movie musical could, in a way, be better than the stage version. The choreography is stellar, and the songs are left in your mind, whether you want them to be or not.

Parents: Ok for kids, despite some violence.

12. Rocky

Network won three acting Oscars (only the second one to do so), Taxi Drive gave us Travis Bickle, and All the President’s Men was the best newspaper movie ever made. Still, like the character it is showing us, Rocky (1976) was the underdog winner for Best Picture. Despite  how you may feel about the sequels, the first was inspiring to everyone, including Charles Chaplin, who said he loved this as it was one of the last films he saw before he died.

Parents: Some violence, but middle schoolers and above are ok.

11.

Annie Hall

I apologize to all my fellow fans of Star Wars, but Annie Hall (1977) was the better movie. I have not seen all of Woody Allen’s films (yet), but I can’t see them being better than this. His writing, directing, and acting are all top notch.It has truly earned its place as one of the top three or four best rom coms ever made.

Parents: There is swearing, and some sexuality. I would say (maturee) Middle Schoolers and above.

10.

Marty

The title character of Marty (1955) is one of the most realistic characters you will see in any movie, as well as one of the most relatable. It is the shortest Best Picture winner (90 minutes), but it packs in as much warmth, humor, romance, and realism as any film I have ever seen. Oh, how I wish this film was longer.

Parents: Ok for kids.

9.

The Apartment

A year after his comic masterpiece Some Like it Hot, Billy Wilder came up with The Apartment (1960), equally as fantastic. Jack Lemmon gives possibly his best performance as a man who is as kind hearted as ever, even if he rents his apartment out to his co workers. It is probably the best “dramedy” ever made.

Parents: The subject matter is a little adult, but nothing is ever shown. Middle Schoolers and above would be ok.

8.

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is the number one movie to show that movies should be shown on big screens, not on hand held devices (I have yet to see it in theaters). It is spellbinding, action packed, and gorgeous beyond belief. Still, I do like To Kill a Mockingbird more, but just by a hair.

Parents: Middle School and above.

7.

It Happend One Night

The first real sweep of the Oscars happend with It Happend One Night (1934), one of the funniest films ever made. Everything about the film has not aged, even over eight years later. Gable and Colbert are perfectly cast, and it set the standard for road comedies that none have been able to match. Actually, they have not even gotten close.

Parents: Ok for kids.

 

6.

On the Waterfront

At the time On the Waterfront (1954) was released, it was a statement that director Elia Kazan used as showing his stance for out communists in Hollywood. Thankfully, the movie is so great that all of that controversy is not even a factor these days. This is thanks to the storytelling, the music, but mainly the acting. While Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, and Karl Malden are fantastic, it is Marlon Brando who leaves the biggest mark on the film. His performance is the best in film history.

Parents: A little violent, but ok for kids. Middle Schoolers and above.

5.

The Godfather Part 2

Chinatown is one of history’s best film noirs, but it does not compare to The Godfather, Part Two (1974), arguably the best sequel ever made. Pacino gets more time to shine, and De Niro is mesmerizing as his younger father. Those last ten minutes are as haunting as anything you will see on film.

Parents: Not for kids. High Schoolers and above (though they better see the first one before hand).

4.

Gone with the Wind.jpg

Apparently, screen legend Gary Cooper once said that Gone with the Wind (1939) would be the biggest bomb ever. I doubt he has said much more that could be more wrong. Just shy of four hours (the longest of any Best Picture winner), it never drags at all. In what many consider the best year for movies (other nominees included The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, and Stagecoach), GWTW swept (most of) the awards. It is also (when ajusted for inflation) the biggest money maker domestically and worldwide. Add in the acting, the music (my personal favorite of all movies), and the epic scope, and, frankly, you should give…well, you know.

Parents: Despite the length (and some minor violence, plus the obvious swear word), it is ok for kids. Middle Schoolers and above.

3.

Schindler's List

Schindler’s List (1993) is easily one of the most difficult films to sit through, as well as one of the most important. Director Steven Spielberg films the movie in black and white (had it been done in color, it would not have been good) to suck the life out of one of the worst times in human history. Nazis have always made memorable villians in movies, but not like this. They are not just evil looking like in The Sound of Music or being stopped by Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here, they are human beings, doing unspeakable crimes. Except for one, who did the unthinkable acts of saving nearly 1100 Jews.

Parents: Easily not for kids, though High Schoolers most definetly should see the film at some point.

 

2.

The Godfather.jpg

It is hard to believe, but The Godfather (1972) almost did not win Best Picture. It only won three Oscars (the main culprit was Cabaret, which, although a good film, could never compare with Coppola’s masterpiece). A friend of mine says it is the best film about family ever made, and I could not agree more. When one thinks of the mafia, this film is the first to come up in every mind. Even those who never have seen it. Although there are few roles for women in the movie, it is clear why it is one of the best movies ever made in so many people’s hearts.

 

Parents: High Schoolers and above.

 

1.Casablanca.jpg

Time has always been the best judge of movies, and no film has ever aged better than Casablanca (1943). There has never been a better romance, a better cast (especially the supporting), or (most of all) a better script (seriously, I have seen the movie a number of times, and still don’t know how many quotable lines there are). It is like wine: it gets better with age, and with every viewing. It is cliche to say so, but it will always get better, as time goes by.

Parents: Ok for kids.

Top 10 Films of 2015

Top 10 films of 2015

 

It is true that some years have better movies than others (1939 and 1994 are prime examples). This does not mean some years are always bad, it just means you have to look harder for them. 2015 had movies you may have had to look harder for to see.

Of course, I did not see every movie that came out last year (I still need to see Beasts of No Nation and Straigh Outta Compton), but I do feel rather confident still with my top ten list ( in which good movies like CarolThe Big ShortWar Room, and Bridge of Spies did not crack the list).

 

Wild Card

Sicario

Benecio Del Toro and Emily Blunt in Sicario.

It may not have gotten all the love it deserved, but great acting and tension fueled Sicario, especially the great performance by Benecio Del Toro.

 

10.

Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender reveals the iMac in “Steve Jobs”

Written by the always wonderful Aaron Sorkin, Michael Fassbender will most definetly get an Oscar nomination as Steve Jobs, also with equally great performaces by Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels.

 

9.

The Hateful Eight

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell, just two of “The Hateful Eight”.

Basically, anything by Tarantino is worth seeing, and The Hateful Eight is no exception. It is fun to watch as much as it is for those who made it.

 

8.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

The most surprising thing about The Martian is not the performance by Matt Damon, nor the supporting cast, but that Ridley Scott directed a movie with humor. That is rare.

 

7.

Spotlight

Possibly the front runner for Best Picture, Spotlight is the story of the true revelation of the dark secret in the Catholic Church in Boston, and beyond. Every actor brings their A game to this film.

 

6.

Creed

Stallone shows Jordan the ropes in “Creed”.

Nostalgic as well as new, Creed is all the things we love of the original Rocky flicks. Stallone is truly remarkable here in the role no one could duplicate.

5.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Rey, Finn, and BB-8: the three new heroes of the galaxy.

Sure, the story was a lot like the original film, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings new characters (as well as old) to new life in a film that is not doing to shabby box office wise right now.

4.

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”.

Filled with more realism and grit than any other film this year, The Revenant is a wonder to behold. It is also the ticket to that long awaited moment of calling DiCaprio an Oscar winner (and it would be well deserved too).

3.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron team up in Max Max: Fury Road

I like to think of director Michael Bay watching Mad Max: Fury Road and taking notes. There is just enough story here to back up one of the best action flicks ever. Like Star Wars and The Revenant, this film shows why films should be watched on big screens, not small ones. It is like Lawrence of Arabia on caffiene.

2.

Inside Out

Fear, Joy, and Disgust are just three of Riley’s voices in “Inside Out”

Easily the most original film of the year, I feel that Inside Out will be like a fine wine: aging better through your years on earth. It ranks among the best animated films ever made.

1.

Room

Jacob Tremblay discovers what lies outside the room.

You know a movie is good when you can’t get it off you mind, even months after you have seen it. Such is the case for my number one pick of 2015, Room. I drove about an hour to the theater and an hour back, and it was worth every second.

Brie Larson is the front runner for Best Actress, and I have not seen a better performance by anyone (of any age) this year than that of 8 year old Jacob Tremblay. The film is likely to never be forgotten once seen.

The 7 Deadly movie sins of 2015 (or, the seven worst of the year) (2015)

2015 Worst

How I felt during these movies….

Ok, seeing these movies are not actually a sin. Still, these are seven films (I am not yet a professional film critic, so I do not need to see all the bad ones. This means I did not make it to ten this year, which is a good thing) that I would consider the most disapointing of the year. (If you don’t see any on here, it is because I wisely avoided it. Take that Fantastic Four!)

7.

Ant-Man

Paul Rudd discovers his future in “Ant-Man”

Ant-Man is a forgettable marvel movie, even with decent special effects. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas do ok work, but the script is not up to par, and it has one of the worst villains in recent comic book movie history.

6. Home

Home was a family film, but was not for everyone in the family. It was just meh.

5.

San Andreas

Dwayne Johnson is the one unbreakable “rock” in “San Andreas”.

Dwayne Johnson can do very good acting. Too bad he does not take very good scripts, like the made for syfy film San Andreas.

 

4.

Disney's TOMORROWLAND..Casey (Britt Robertson) ..Ph: Film Frame..?Disney 2015

Casey, played by Britt Robertson, visits Tomorrowland

I agree with the films message, but wouldn’t you want a film like Tomorrowland to take place in…..Tomorrowland?

 

3.

Terminator Genisys

He said he would be back.

Terminator Genisys does not only fail to live up to the first two, but it suggests that those two did not even happen? That is not cool.

 

2. Chappie.jpg

Chappie was something I thought could go well (it was made by the director of the great film District 9). The result? Change the H to an R in the title.

 

1.

  1. XXX JUPITER ASCENDING MOV JY 1628 .JPG A ENT

    EXCLUSIVE TO USA TODAY FOR FIRST USE Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in a scene from the motion picture “Jupiter Ascending.” CREDIT: Murray Close, Warner Bros. Pictures [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

    When I got Jupiter Ascending from the library (like I would pay for it), I put it in, and tried to pay attention. I was on my ipad the rest of the movie. I forgot the game I was playing, but I am pretty confident it had a better storyline.

2015 Half Time Report

To be honest, I am a little disappointed.

I understand that many movies in the first half of the year are not that great, nor on many top ten lists at the end of the year. Still, the fact remains (to me) that this year has been just……par for the course.

Therefore, I only have five films I can think of that are worth mentioning (remember, I have not gotten to see all the films; the one I want to see still mainly is Batkid Begins, but from what I have seen here it is:

5. Jurassic World

Not great, but had plenty of CGI awesomeness to keep me entertained.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

It had moments that got me smiling, but it did not outshine the original.

3. Cinderella

The most known fairy tale of all time, this movie was a pleasant surprise with nice acting, visual beauty, and a message at its core for both kids and the adults as well.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

The action flick of the year, by far, this film had action that made the jaw drop. Add in some drama, solid acting, and wonderful music, and you have a piece of awesome work.

1. Inside Out

One of Disney/Pixar’s very best, this film has drama, comedy, and (if you forgive the expression) a lot of thought. The characters are top notch (mainly due to the casting), the writing is pure gold, and the result is a film we will talk about for a long, long time.

Worst of the year: There are a few contenders I saw (although I never saw Jupiter Ascending, but heard enough about it). My pick is Chappie. Basically, changes the “h” to “R” and the “IE” to “Y” and you have your movie.

Here is hoping for a better second half…