Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bryan Singer to direct "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

The X-Men franchise has been revived. After two dismal turn-out in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine that were both hated by fans, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) revived the franchise in 2011 with X-Men: First Class. With James Mangold's stand alone Wolverine film next year and the 2014 sequel to First Class, it's a good time to be an X-Men fan. But fans were shocked last week when Matthew Vaughn left the sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past. As soon as Vaughn left, fans immediately latched on to the rumor that X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer would return. Today, that rumor is confirmed. Singer will direct the film which will see the return of James McAvoy, Michael Fassebender and Jennifer Lawrence. The film will be directed by Singer, produced by Vaughn and Simon Kinberg and Lauren Schuler Donner will write. X-Men: Days of Future Past is set to be released on July 18, 2014 (the same day as The Hobbit: There and Back Again, so expect a delay).

The Walt Disney Company acquires Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, Episode VII to come in 2015

The biggest news this year so far came today. The Walt Disney Company, after acquiring Pixar and Marvel in previous years has now acquired Lucasfilm Ltd. Disney paid $4.05 Billion for the company which also includes Industrial Light and Magic, and other Lucasfilm companies. Lucasfilm Ltd. owner George Lucas wanted to hand over the reigns to the Star Wars franchise to someone else and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg's longtime producer will be running the company with Lucas' consultation. Lucas and Disney have had history together with a theme park attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios and several toys appearing at Walt Disney World along with the annual Star Wars weekends. Disney President Bob Iger has said that they will focus on theme park attractions, television shows, toys and more. Lucasfilm Ltd. has very few restrictions unlike the deal with Marvel. The Indiana Jones franchise is also a Lucasfilm property, but Iger stated that they had no plans for that.

The biggest news that came from Iger and Lucas was the plans for Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015 (ten years after Episode III) along with Episodes VIII and IX, followed by Star Wars films every two to three years. This news was majorly shocking after Lucas has denied any interest in making or helping to develop Star Wars films anymore. Some fans have been angry at the film series being turned over to Disney but others are happy to see the franchise continue on. Anyways, I will have more analysis of this story later but for now this is the biggest news around town.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Perks of Being A Wallflower review

The Perks of Being A Wallflower seems like a typical teen movie. There are three stars (Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller) and it's set in high school and blah blah blah. But this film is so much more. High school characters have never had so many difficult things happen to them. These range from closeted homosexuality to a friend's suicide. The Perks of Being A Wallflower deals with all these issues and more. It is an emotional film, one that is very sad and at times very depressing. But in the end, it is the characters that drive the movie.

The film is about Charlie (Logan Lerman), a high school freshman who suffered a mental breakdown after his friend shot himself the past summer. He has a tough time adjusting to high school until he meets Sam (Emma Watson from the Harry Potter films) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). The step brother and sister pair introduce Charlie to a group of friends all with their own problems. Sam has had hard experiences with older guys, Patrick is dating a closeted football star and more. Charlie feels at home and he comes out of his shell with the help of his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd) and his group of friends.

My synopsis makes the film seem all happy go lucky. But it's not. All the characters go through emotional highs and lows. The film is often very sad and depressing. The performances are great though. Lerman and Miller are the stand-outs for the emotional pain they bring to their roles but Watson is solid too.

The film does meander a bit in the middle and I think that they could have gotten that under control. There are times where I felt that they didn't really know what to do with the more mature stuff from the book (I'll get to that) but I think the fact that you are emotionally invested in the characters makes it all worth it. The stuff at the end is handled fantastically as well.

This is a film aimed at teenagers. Being a teenager, I saw myself in the film and could relate to a lot of the stuff at the beginning of Charlie not fitting in. It is likely that you will see yourself in this film as well, whether it be a small part or a large part of yourself. The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a good film that I think people should go see. It is not a great film but a very good one.

There is one more point I would like to bring up. From what I have read, this was an R-rated book that was turned into a PG-13 movie. There is still drug use, sexual dialogue, language, and hard emotional material but it seems from watching the movie that there was a lot that was toned down. It doesn't lessen the film. I just though I would point that out.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                             (7.3/10)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MPAA Ratings Weekly Bulletin: October 24, 2012

This is a new feature on The Movie Guru's Blog: weekly motion picture ratings updates. There were a decent amount this week including a major best picture candidate so here we go.

FUN SIZE- The Victoria Justice Halloween comedy got a PG-13 for crude and suggestive material, partying, and language- 10/26/12

GRAVITY- Alfonso Cuaron's delayed space drama received a PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images, and brief strong language- TBD

PARENTAL GUIDANCE- Billy Crystal's comedy received a PG for some rude humor- 12/25/12

THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK- The David O. Russell Oscar favorite received an R for language and some sexual content/nudity- 11/21/12

WARM BODIES- The Zombie book adaptation received a PG-13 for zombie violence and some language- 10/1/13

Captain America: The Winter Soldier adding several new roles, Crossbones, Sharon Carter may appear

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is unlike the other two Marvel sequels in that it has not started production yet. Therefore, several roles are up for grabs. The role of the Falcon has already been filled by Anthony Mackie but apparently there are still several more. Originally reported several weeks ago, was that Imogen Poots, Anna Kendrick, and others were up for the role of Sharon Carter. Now it seems that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the front runner for the part. Winstead, for those who are not aware, appeared in films such as the 2011 remake of The Thing and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. If she got the part, she would be playing the niece of Peggy Carter (Hayley Altwell) in the sequel. In addition Josh Holloway, who briefly appeared in Mission Impossible- Ghost Protocol is up for a role as well.

The biggest latest news is that Frank Grillo (Gangster Squad, The Grey) is up for a role as Crossbones. Crossbones is an assassin introduced in the 80's. Considering that the film will likely focus on Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier), Crossbones would be a good companion. Grillo is not guaranteed for the part but it looks like he has a good chance and we will likely be hearing more about this in the future. Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens April 4, 2014.

Tony Scott's death officially ruled a suicide

Tony Scott, the director of such films as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II killed himself on August. From the moment the news was reported, most people knew it was a suicide but today it is official. Scott jumped from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in California and had large amounts of an anti-depressant drug and Lunesta, a sleep aid in his system. Scott was originally reported to have inoperable brain cancer, but that was later proved to be false. Scott may have left a suicide note, but what was said has not yet been reported.

James Cameron to direct "The Informationist" after Avatar trilogy

James Cameron recently stated that he was going to be doing nothing but Avatar movies. Well, apparently that has changed. Cameron, in addition to the long delayed Battle Angel movie, has now signed up for The Informationist, an adaptation for 20th Century Fox based on the 2011 book by Taylor Stevens.

The Informationist centers on Vanessa "Michael" Monroe, an information specialist who is tasked with finding the missing daughter of a Texas oil Billionaire, which causes Monroe to examine her own dark history and childhood. Cameron will likely not make this film for a while considering that he makes one movie every five to ten years and still has not made the two Avatar sequels he wants to. Cameron is not a great director in my mind, I think that his older work and Titanic are strong but the work he is most known for (Avatar) is a piece of junk. He makes visual masterpieces but recycles old stories. James Cameron will work with Jon Landau and Lightstorm for this film as well. Expect The Informationist to come out sometime after the Avatar sequels. Somewhere around 2018.

Iron Man 3 trailer premieres

The first trailer for the first major 2013 summer release has arrived. Marvel premiered the Iron Man 3 trailer after two teaser trailers, six images and a teaser poster. The trailer contains first shots at characters played by  Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall. Most of the trailer deals with the destruction of Tony Stark's mansion, but also contains some hints at the Extremis storyline and the new suit. Check it out now:

All in all, Iron Man 3 is one of my most anticipated of 2013. The film looks to have a darker tone and much better cleaner visual effects than the previous two and the final shot of Tony Stark dragging the suit was haunting. All in all, a solid teaser trailer and I hope much more is to come.

Welcome Andrew

Hey guys, my name's Andrew, and I'll be another writer for the blog, just like Avery. Just a quick update, that's all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 disappoints, Argo stuns in second weekend

Paranormal Activity 4 won the weekend with a meager $29 million. That is a huge disappointment considering that the third Paranormal Activity grossed around $52 million last year in its debut. Maybe it was the presence of Sinister last weekend that caused audiences to stay home from Paranormal Activity 4. The franchise is already set to have a spin off in March 2013 and a sequel is of course coming next October. Meanwhile in second place, Ben Affleck's Argo dropped 15% to $16.45 million. That is an amazing hold and with the word of mouth remaining strong, it should continue to maintain high grosses and it could possibly win next weekend. I saw the weekend and really enjoyed it. It's not perfect, but the script and direction is fantastic and I had a smile on my face for most of the film. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check it out and I hope to check it out again myself. Taken 2 and Hotel Transylvania both grossed about $13 million this weekend. At this point, they have both cleared the $100 million mark. The only other wide release was Alex Cross which bombed with $11.3 million.

The Sessions also did well in limited release with a $28,000 per theater average. Next week will see the release of the much-anticipated Cloud Atlas, the Halloween comedy Fun Size, and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. Look for Cloud Atlas or Argo to win the weekend.

1. Cloud Atlas- $17 million
2. Argo- $15.2 million
3. Paranormal Activity 4- $13.4 million
4. Fun Size- $10.9 million
5. Silent Hill: Revelation- $7 million

Welcome Avery to The Movie Guru's Blog

A new staff writer has joined The Movie Guru's Blog. Avery is just joining the blog and he will be writing about everything movies for the blog starting now. Welcome Avery!

In addition, there is a new design on the site of the blog. I really like it and I hope you do to! More blogging to come!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Argo review

Argo is director Ben Affleck's third film. I did not see his other two, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but Argo shows that he is definitely a director that is going to be around for a while. Argo is the kind of '70s style thriller that doesn't need bullets or mass explosions to get audiences excited. It just needs good old-fashioned tension. Argo is a very exciting thriller that has you on the edge of your side and laughing out loud as well. The film is one of the best from 2012 and will definitely be a major contender at the Academy Awards.

Argo is the story of six American diplomats who escaped the US embassy in Tehran while it was being sieged during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979. The six find refuge at the Canadien ambassador's house, but are under a ticking clock. The leaders of the revolution are putting together shreds of paper and will soon realize that the six have escaped. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is a CIA expert tasked with getting the six out of Tehran. He comes up with a plan that involves posing as a film crew for an exotic science fiction movie and using that to get them out of Tehran. He comes up with a whole fake operation including makeup expert John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) and the question still remains: will Tony's plan work?

The film is smartly written. It balances the tension and humor of the story nicely and a lot of the highlights of the movie. The score is beautiful and highlights the tension of the story when it needs to, but isn't over the top. There are plenty of scenes that have no music, just silence. The comic relief is one of the best parts of the film. It's not forced, it is completely natural. The story is just so ridiculous it works. Goodman and Arkin especially should be in contention for a best supporting actor nod. Even during some of the more intense scenes during the beginning of the film, there is a lot of humor involved.

The story is very emotional as well. You feel for the hostages, you want them to get out. Towards the end of the film, I felt so frustrated, I was like come on get out! The tension at the end of the film is not caused by excessive gun chases, but by the fact that it's just intense. There is a good chance they will be killed and throughout the final scenes it is very tense.

The best parts of the story for me were the Hollywood parts. Argo shows Hollywood when the Hollywood sign was in pieces and everyone was trying to make Star Wars copies. It lovingly pays homage to Hollywood while also making fun of it. I had a smile on my face throughout most of those scenes.

Argo is one of the best films of the year. Granted, this is one of the weakest years I have seen but still this is a very good film. I don't have very many criticisms. Affleck isn't great as Mendez but he is good and there are a couple moments where it is slow but overall it is a very strong film. Argo is rated R for language and some violent images. It has very many uses of the f-bomb including a repeated phrase that will definitely get the crowd laughing. Go see Argo, it's one of the best films of the year.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A+                                            (10/10)

Oscar Nominees Reviews: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby is a massive emotional punch. By the end of the film, you are completely drained emotionally because of all the things that happen throughout the film. Million Dollar Baby seems like just a regular sports movie for about the first half with above average acting and direction. But in the second half it becomes something more than a sports movie, it becomes an emotional roller coaster that just keeps going down. Rocky, this isn't.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank) is a poor girl from Missouri who works a job as a waitress and has virtually no money for food. She goes to a boxing gym and tries to get the help of Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) to train her. "I don't train girls," is his response but as the film goes on he grows closer and closer to her. Morgan Freeman also stars as a manager of sorts at the gym.

There are two powerhouse performances in the film. Swank is wonderful and does a lot throughout the movie to demonstrate her characters power and effect. Eastwood gives a massively effective performance as a man that is consumed by guilt. Freeman is solid too but there isn't a lot of reason for him to be in the story. Freeman does the narration, which is awful, but in the end he doesn't have that much use in the story.

The star of the film for me was Eastwood's direction. The way that he uses the dark shadows of the gym is amazing. Most of the film is black and white and it is definitely very gritty.

I have to say that it takes a while to get into the story. Until the last half hour, I just felt that it was an average sports drama with good acting and fantastic directing. But in the end, Million Dollar Baby is something more. The film becomes this emotional powerhouse that is sort of the anti-Rocky. Not all stories have happy endings and Million Dollar Baby is a perfect example of that.

Million Dollar Baby is a very good film. Give it time, the film's payoff is worth it. There is a lot of great things about the film but I don't think it is perfect either. But the emotional punch that is given pushes Million Dollar Baby ahead of the average sports film.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oscar Nominees Reviews: Juno (2007)

Juno isn't exactly my kind of film, which is sort of odd considering that I love Arrested Developement, a TV show that has several cast members that appear in Juno. But it just isn't a film that I enjoyed watching all that much. Not because it is not a good movie, it's funny and has a great script, it just did not provide the level of entertainment I expected.

Ellen Page is the title character. She has sex with her boyfriend Bleeker (Michael Cera) and then gets pregnant. She considers an abortion but a classmate persuades her otherwise. She then finds two adoptive parents (Jennifer Garner and Arrested Developement's Jason Bateman) who want a baby. She agrees to give them the child. After that a myriad of things happen throughout the story.

Juno plays with the characters too much. For example at the beginning of the story I thought that Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) was sort of an stubborn jerk while Mark (Bateman) was the nice and friendly one. Director Jason Reitman flips that towards the end and that just threw me off. I also didn't enjoy how fast the love story between Juno and Bleeker was put on at the end of the story. That was a questionable decision. Juno also features a weird indie soundtrack, which fits the movie but is not something that I liked.

Juno turns into a great emotional movie at the end. I think that I lot of the things that are kind of left hanging throughout the whole running time are tied together. Overall, I think that Juno is a solid film but it didn't give me everything that I wanted.


Oscar Nominees Reviews: The Descendants (2011)

The Descendants is a simple, but fantastic film. It features an all-star cast, a smartly written script, and memorable characters that you come to care about. The Descendants is a great movie. There are few flaws that I can point out and say that it took away from the film.

The Descendants stars George Clooney as Matt King, a Hawaiian landowner with virtually entire islands who is one of the many cousins who are all descendants of the man who originally owned the land. The cousins are mostly broke (except for Matt) and need to sell the land and receive about a billion dollars. Matt's world is shaken when his wife goes into a coma after a boating accident. Matt gets his two daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) together and then learns from Alexandra, that his wife was having an affair. Matt must balance the sale of the land with the impending doom of his wife while on a cross-Hawaiian trip to find the man who had the affair.

The whole film is extremely entertaining. There was never a moment when I was bored. The film is very mature and deals with a lot of tough subjects but still has a lot of light moments most of which come from Sid (Nick Krause), who is hilarious. I think that the setting also adds to the film immensely. The whole film is shot beautifully and has a general feeling of paradise but deals with these devastating and highly emotional issues. That is one more thing that made the film great for me.

It's hard to make a film that is both emotional and funny. My favorite example is Forrest Gump. This is not a film like Gump, but it balances the emotions of the sad and funny like that film. Clooney and Woodley give great performances and overall The Descendants is a great film.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

'Zero Dark Thirty', 'Hitchcock', 'Jack Reacher' and more premiere new trailers

The awards season is in full swing so the onslaught of trailers and clips for those films is now starting. One of the big awards season players that we have not seen much of, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty has premiered a new trailer. Check it out.


The trailer puts the film at the top of the pack. The film looks like a knockout. The terrible first trailer made the film look like a Jason Bourne style thriller but now the film looks like it has the excitement, the thrills, and the emotions that make a great film. Really hoping for something great. Zero Dark Thirty opens December 19.


One of my favorite film directors is finally getting the biopic he deserves. Hitchcock looks pretty good, if not a bit formulaic. I think that a lot of the performances will be great and I hope that the film gives off a sort of old movie feel. I think that Hitchcock will be good. Right mixture of suspense (although everyone knows what happens in Psycho), humor and human drama. Hitchcock opens November 23.


Django definitely looks fun and all (I laughed out loud at Jonah Hill) but I think that Tarantino may just be juggling too many different things at once. The film looks funny but it also looks very serious. I hope they work together like in his previous films but I think that this one looks like it might be too much. Leonardo DiCaprio's performance is intriguing. It looks like he will be very funny and very angry all at once. Django Unchained opens Christmas Day.


Gangster Squad looks fantastic. I love the whole '40s noir style and the fact that it is set in Los Angeles during the glory days of Hollywood. While I do think it looks very good, I worry about it. After extensive reshoots because of the Aurora tragedy, Warner Bros. dumped the film in January. That is not a good sign. They either should bump it back farther to a better date or bring it forward to December where it compete for an Academy Award. Gangster Squad opens January 11.


Jack Reacher looks pretty good. I think that Tom Cruise might be a little stiff, but it looks to have a good amount of action and drama with a few light touches peppered throughout (the final minutes of the trailer are pure gold). In the end, I think that Jack Reacher will be a very interesting film, one that takes many styles and puts it all together.

Those trailers are just the beginning. There are certainly more to come including the trailer for Marvel's Iron Man 3 next week. Stay tuned.

Oscar Winner review: The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech is a magical, almost perfect film. The King's Speech has three great performances, a stellar score and all around great filmmaking. The King's Speech is about King George VI (Colin Firth) who must over come a speech impediment to rule the country and give a speech with a country right on the verge of World War II. He is helped by Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) who helps him overcome the fear of learning how to speak. The film is extremely sentimental but it's told in such a magical, but hard and unflinching at the same time that it is impossible not to love it. There is a decent amount of tension throughout the middle and overall it's just a fantastic movie.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10/14/12: Oscar Update

This week has a big shake-up in the rankings. My #1 still remains the same for most categories but there are some major advances in Best Picture and Best Actor.


1. Argo
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Lincoln
4. Les Miserables
5. Life of Pi
6. The Master
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Flight
9. Zero Dark Thirty
10. Beasts of the Southern Wild


1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
2. Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
3. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Denzel Washington, Flight
5. Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock


1. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
2. Helen Mirren, Hitchcock


1. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
2. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
4. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
5. Alan Arkin, Argo


1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
2. Amy Adams, The Master
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
5. Sally Field, Lincoln


1. Wreck- It Ralph
2. Paranorman
3. Frankenweenie
4. Brave
5. From Up Poppy Hill


1. Ben Affleck, Argo
2. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
3. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
4. Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
5. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook


1. Life of Pi
2. The Avengers
3. The Dark Knight Rises
4. Cloud Atlas
5. Prometheus


1. Lincoln
2. The Dark Knight Rises
3. Life of Pi
4. The Avengers
5. Argo

The Dark Knight Rises hits Blu-Ray on December 4

The Dark Knight Rises one of the biggest films of the year will debut on Blu-Ray on December 4. The Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray combo pack will have several bonus features and an extra combo pack that contains a bat cowl. The Dark Knight Rises will not contain an extended cut as previously thought. The Dark Knight Rises will hit stores just in time for the holidays on December 4.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marvel announces Ant-Man for 2015, Disney adds release dates

Marvel and Disney had a busy day as they announced the release dates for nearly six films along with a couple of 3D conversions. The two 3D conversions are of Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Those two films will be post converted into 3D and keep their respective release dates. Meanwhile, Marvel announced that following The Avengers 2 (May 1, 2015) will be Ant-Man. The film which has Edgar Wright attached to direct will be released on November 6, 2015. That raises some questions about whether or not Ant-Man or any of the characters from that franchise will appear in The Avengers 2. Disney also announced an animated film which is suspected to be Big Hero 6, Marvel and Disney's first animated theatrical team-up. That film will hit theaters November 7, 2014. Also announced were Disneynature's Bears, which will hit theaters on April 18, 2014 and the Tom Hanks starring vehicle Saving Mr. Banks, which will now hit theaters December 20, 2013. The film stars Hanks as Walt Disney and features a behind the scenes look at the making of Mary Poppins. Pixar also announced a November 25, 2015 release date for an untitled film that most people assume will be Pete Docter's trip inside the mind film. These announcements set up the slate for Disney nicely with a diverse line-up.

What chance does Skyfall have at the Academy Awards?

A James Bond film has never been nominated for best picture. Dr. No, Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Casino Royale: not a single one was nominated for best picture. Those films are all regarded as classics now but they couldn't get the Academy's attention then. A lot of people have now concluded that a Bond film will now never get a Best Picture nomination. But with the new James Bond adventure, Skyfall (In theaters Nov. 9) that might all change. The reviews have been nothing but raves. The film has an all-star cast of Oscar favorites alongside Craig such as Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List), and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) in a villainous role. Skyfall also has an Academy Award winning director in Sam Mendes (American Beauty). So, does Skyfall really have what it takes?

The reviews certainly seem like they will bode well for its chances. Peter DeBruge from Variety and Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter both gave the film rave reviews citing that it is an smart and intelligent thriller that is relevant to world concerns. Edward Douglas from ComingSoon.net gave the film 9/10 saying that it is a film that "every Bond fan will want to see". The film currently holds a 100% fresh rating on rotten tomatoes.

Does Skyfall have a chance? The answer is a resounding yes. While there is about a 0% chance that Skyfall will actually take home the statuette, there is a solid chance that it will get several nomination. Along with the usually action blockbuster nominations like sound, sound mixing, and visual effects, I can see Skyfall getting nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Director for Sam Mendes. I think that Bond has all the traditional Oscar ingredients that the Academy loves. I think that as the reviews keep pouring in, more people will see Skyfall as a legitimate contender for a nomination.

Argo opens 2nd with $20 million and an A+ cinema score. Is it the new Oscar season favorite?

Taken 2 won the weekend with $22.5 million in its second weekend. Not surprising since Taken 2 is an audience favorite and even though critics hated it, it has grossed a lot of money. But the real story from the weekend is Argo, the Ben Affleck thriller that has a lot of advance Oscar buzz. That film opened to a decent $20 million, but also an A+ cinemascore which is a sign of guaranteed great word of mouth. Argo skewed a lot older with most of the audience over 35. But with the word of mouth and Oscar buzz as the season goes on, you can guarantee that Argo will become a King's Speech style favorite. Over $100 million is a possibility. Sinister opened in 3rd with a massive $18.5 million. The film had not brand name actors and still managed to gross high based on social media word of mouth. Hotel Transylvania is staying strong with nearly $17.3 million in grosses. That is strong for the animated comedy and it should remain strong in the coming weeks. In addition to those four successes, there were three flops: Here Comes The Boom, Seven Psychopaths and Atlas Shrugged Part II. Those films did not get much attention.

Argo is now the Oscar favorite: hands down. People love it, critics love it and it is an Academy type of film. There are a few other strong contenders right now including Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln but none look as strong as Argo right now. It has all the ingredients: great cast, great performances and it has Hollywood and movies in it and that has proved good in recent years (The Artist, Hugo). I should have a review coming by the end of the week so look for that.

Next week we have Paranormal Activity 4, and Alex Cross. The Paranormal franchise is dwindling so don't expect grosses to be as big. Argo should stay where it is at and Alex Cross smells like a flop.


1. Paranormal Activity 4- $42 million
2. Argo- $20 million
3. Alex Cross- $12 million
4. Hotel Transylvania- $11 million
5. Taken 2- $9 million

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oscar Nominees and Winners reviews: True Grit (2010) and Moneyball (2011)

With Oscar season beginning and the awards talk starting to heat up, I decided that I would watch some of the films that were nominated for the Oscar in previous years. Over the next few weeks, I'll review several films that were nominated for best picture and I'll give my opinions and in the end I'll pick a winner for each year. Here are reviews of True Grit and Moneyball.


Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper
Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen
Oscar Nominations: 10
My Grade: B+

True Grit is an old-school western except more in the veins of the Coen brothers films and less in the John Wayne-Saturday afternoon serials of the 1950's. This a down and dirty western concerned with one thing: revenge. The performances are unbelievable. Jeff Bridges is great and all but is blown away but Hailee Steinfeld, who gives an absolutely fantastic performance as Mattie Ross who is on a quest for vengeance against her father's killer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). She heads into the Choctaw nation with Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and LaBoeuf (Damon) to pursue the Ned Pepper gang which Chaney is a part of. The film is slow in places, like all westerns but is helped by the performances, the score and the gritty action. I felt like it lagged a bit too much in the middle but I think that it still has parts that are very funny (unusual in westerns) and a good amount of action. I think that while definitely not the strongest film of 2010 (Toy Story 3, Inception and The Social Network are all better choices) it still is a good film.


Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright
Screenplay: Steve Zaillian, and Aaron Sorkin
Oscar Nominations: 6
My Grade: A

Moneyball is a movie that centers on talking. There is a lot of statistics talk and most of the movie consists of people in rooms talking about baseball prospects. Unlike most baseball films, Moneyball doesn't focus on the action on the field or really even attempt to recreate it. Instead it focuses on Billy Beane's (Pitt) quest to create a championship team out of nothing but $39 million dollars. A brilliant Yale graduate named Peter Brand (Hill) has a formula: if players get one base and score runs and you can get them cheap, then you have a winning team. The idea is faced with loads of scrutiny and according to some people, it threatens the game. Pitt gives a fantastic performance. He's charismatic and adds a ton to the movie. Hill gives a quirky performance, funny but not as show-stopping as Pitt's. The screenplay is well-written and the movie is just fun and exciting to watch in general. There is so much in Moneyball that is good: the writing, the score, the performances, and the final scene are just amazing. Moneyball definitely deserved its best picture nomination.

Frankenweenie review

Frankenweenie is one of the best film concepts that just never panned out. Frankenweenie looks great on paper: it's a Tim Burton homage to monster movies and black and white and features a nice story about a boy bringing his dog back to life. But it's just so dull. There is no real emotion. Tim Burton put his imagination into the film but didn't put his storytelling skills into it. There is no character development. There are tons of characters that Burton added just to occupy time and add nothing to the story. There is a bunch of nonsense in the middle of the film that advances the story no further. It was a film that I was not entertained by and while I enjoyed some of the slight winks that the film has, I was still bored and uninterested.

Frankenweenie is about a boy named Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) who likes to make movies. He makes super 8 movies in his backyard starring his dog Sparky. His dad (Martin Short) wants him to play sports. When he plays baseball, he hits a home run and his dog chases it and gets run over by a car. It gets real depressing real fast. Then Victor decides that he will use the knowledge his science teacher Mr. Rsykruski (Martin Landau) gave him and bring his dog back to life. He does and then a bunch of things happen.

My biggest problem with Frankenweenie is the middle section and lack of interesting characters. There are about twenty characters in Frankenweenie and I couldn't relate to a single one of them. They are just there to advance the story, which for an hour of the movie doesn't advance. There is a thirty minute time period where there is nothing but a bunch of different kids running around doing science fair stuff while the dog is just roaming around town. They try to do multiple experiments but they don't work. There are no characters you care about or even like (I guess Victor is slightly enjoyable but still). The movie just doesn't work. It's not that funny either. The ending, which everybody else seemed to love, with reborn pets destroying stuff didn't matter to me because I felt uninterested in the action because I had no attachment to the characters.

While this is pretty much a bashing of Frankenweenie, I still enjoyed a couple of things about it. The design is beautiful. There is so much to like about the black and white aesthetic that Burton uses and a lot of the winks he puts in the film are good as well (such as lightning flashing every two minutes). But it just doesn't matter. It's a perfect example of style over substance.

Burton fans will probably love it. I'm not a Burton fan so I can't really say. I was excited that Burton would offer a good old school film and I was excited about the design. Some would argue that he did. I would say that he didn't do a good enough job. Overall, I was very unsatisfied in the film.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D+                                          (4.5/10)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

10/7/12: Oscar Update

Every week, I will update the standings for the Oscars leading up to the final night. This week didn't see many major changes except in a couple of categories.


1. Argo
2. Les Miserables
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Lincoln
5. The Master
6. Moonrise Kingdom
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Zero Dark Thirty
9. Life of Pi
10. Django Unchained

Outliers: Flight, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Anna Karenina, The Dark Knight Rises


1. Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
2. Daniel- Day Lewis, Lincoln
3. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Anthony Hopkins, Hitchcock
5. Denzel Washington, Flight


1. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook


1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
2. Amy Adams, The Master
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4. Sally Field, Lincoln
5. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty


1. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
2. Alan Arkin, Argo
3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
5. Russell Crowe, Les Miserables


1. Wreck-It Ralph
2. Frankenweenie
3. Paranorman
4. Brave
5. From Up on Poppy Hill


1. Ben Affleck, Argo
2. Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
3. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
5. Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty


1. Life of Pi