Friday, January 31, 2014

Jesse Eisenberg and Jeremy Irons cast in Warner Bros.' "Batman vs. Superman"

After all of the hubbub surrounding Warner Bros.' decision to move their new Superman flick from 2015 to 2016, the studio decided to drop this bomb on us as well.

For months now, the film community has speculated on who will play Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman and Batman film. There were rumors that Joaquin Phoenix would take on the role. That seemed to be the most plausible casting choice as Phoenix had worked with Warner Bros. before on Her and the upcoming crime comedy Inherent Vice. But that ended up being a false lead, and Phoenix didn't get the role. Another actor who was rumored to play Luthor was Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. Like Phoenix, Cranston has worked with Warner Bros. frequently on projects such as Argo and the upcoming flick Godzilla. In addition, Cranston already had gone bald for a role and had seen his fame rise since the end of Breaking Bad. However, Cranston didn't get the role either. The role of Lex Luthor actually went to an actor who nobody was even thinking of. Today, Warner Bros. announced that Jesse Eisenberg will be taking on the role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel.

Eisenberg isn't an obvious choice. And while I have minimal interest in Batman vs. Superman, I do think that casting Eisenberg is a great move. At this point, I think that we can certify that Luthor isn't going to be the only villain in the film. He's just not a physical threat to Batman or Superman. But I think that Eisenberg can play the devious, menacing genius very well. It seems to be the only role that Eisenberg plays. However, he is a good actor and I thought that his performance was very good in The Social Network. This has been the only bit of casting news that has actually excited me about this film, so that's a good sign. People are already bashing this, but just remember, people bashed Heath Ledger as well. And we all know that his performance as The Joker was superb.
Warner Bros. also announced today that Jeremy Irons will be portraying Alfred in the film. That's solid casting. I really don't have any strong feelings about it. Irons is a good actor and I think that he'll do a great job. There's just one problem with it. And that is the fact that Michael Caine is permanently embedded into my mind as Alfred. He is my generation's Alfred. I can't change that. I know that Warner Bros. and Snyder are trying to differentiate from the Nolan films as much as possible, but I think that bringing back Michael Caine for this film wouldn't have been an awful thing. Anyways, that's just my opinion.



Let me know what you think about this casting in the comments below. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Batman vs. Superman. An official title for the film would be nice.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Ouija", "A Walk Among the Tombstones" to hit theaters in 2014, "Everest", "Pitch Perfect 2", "Crimson Peak" dated for 2015

Universal today announced the release dates for six of their upcoming releases. Three of the films will be released in 2014 and another three will be released in 2015. Universal obviously has confidence in a few of these movies, but a lot of them are being released during months that don't excite me all that much.

First off, we have the thriller As Above, So Below. This film is directed by John Erick Dowdle and will be produced by Legendary Pictures. The film is set in Paris and appears to be a weird psychological thriller of sorts. The film will be released on August 15, 2014. That's a perfect date for this film which sounds like an odd genre entry that I won't be too interested in. No word on the cast yet, but Thomas Tull (Pacific Rim) is producing the film. 



Liam Neeson is a great actor. He's been in many great movies, but lately, it seems like all the roles he plays are angry, violent action heroes. Neeson stars in February's Non-Stop as an air marshal, and will also be reprising the role of Bryan Mills in Taken 3. However, Universal just announced a project that sounds quite interesting. A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Neeson and Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens. Neeson plays a PI and Dan Stevens is a heroin smuggler who team up to avenge the death of Stevens' character's wife. Now, this COULD end up being another superficial revenge thriller, as I said before. But, to my surprise, this actually sounds like a legitimately interesting film and one that won't be standard genre fare. I think that we could have an Oscar dark horse here. A Walk Among the Tombstones will be released on September 19, 2014. Danny DeVito is producing and Scott Frank is directing. I'm keeping my eye on this film. 

Now, we come to a film that has been in development forever. I believe that Ouija, Universal's adaptation of the classic board game, was meant to hit theaters in November 2012, but was delayed indefinitely. Universal is now putting it back on the schedule as Ouija will hit theaters on October 24, 2014. Ouija will be directed by Stiles White and produced by Jason Blum of Paranormal Activity and Insidious fame and Michael Bay. This sounds like a full-on horror film and not something that interests me too much. I'm sure that Universal will make some good cash on this one, but I'm not expecting much. 


We move on to a project that I'm a little bit more interested in. Everest stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes and Jake Gyllenhaal as adventurers who climb Mount Everest during a dangerous snowstorm. Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) directs the film, while Universal, Working Title and Cross Creek Pictures produce. While I don't think that Everest will be a great film, I certainly believe that the talent involved is strong and I think that it could make for a solid flick. Gyllenhaal gave such a fantastic performance in Prisoners and Clarke is great in Zero Dark Thirty. I'm hopeful for this one. Universal will release Everest in IMAX 3D on February 27, 2015. 



Next up is a film that I have absolutely zero interest in: Pitch Perfect 2. Never saw the first Pitch Perfect and don't really plan on it. None of the actors are officially signed on yet, but Kay Cannon is returning to write the sequel and Elizabeth Banks is directing the film this time around. Universal announced today that Pitch Perfect 2 will be released on May 15, 2015. They obviously have a lot of confidence in commercial success with this one. It's just a matter of time before Ride Along 2 is announced as well. 


Finally, we actually get to talk about the film that I'm excited for. Pacific Rim barely missed the cut on my top fifteen list, but it still had the best musical score of the year and featured some great action scenes. We likely won't get a sequel to that film anytime soon, but I'm equally excited for Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro's next effort. Crimson Peak stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Hunnam and is a "gothic horror film" about a living house. That's what the synopsis sounded like to me. Crimson Peak will be released in IMAX on October 16, 2015. 


Those are the release date updates for now, but I'm sure more films will be dated soon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Ride Along" leads, "I, Frankenstein" flops at the weekend box office

After a couple of massive, record-breaking weekends, the box office cooled down as the only high-profile release flopped. Ride Along led the box office with $21.2 million, which raised its total to $75.5 million. The Kevin Hart action comedy dropped only 49% this weekend, which is a pretty light drop. Ride Along will almost certainly cross $100 million at this point. The film has its moments, but unfortunately it's incredibly cliched and ignorant. If you haven't seen it, I don't recommend it. Lone Survivor placed in second this weekend with $12.9 million which is a relatively light drop from last weekend. The action drama has stayed strong through the last few weeks and has now grossed $93.9 million. Look for Lone Survivor to finish with over $125 million.

The Nut Job finished in 3rd place this weekend with $12.1 million, which raised its total to $40 million. The Nut Job only took a small hit this weekend and will probably stay strong throughout this upcoming weekend. However, once The LEGO Movie rolls along, you can forget about The Nut Job. Fourth place belonged to Frozen, which grossed $9.1 million this weekend. The Disney animated comedy has grossed $347.8 million so far and should finish with over $370 million by the end of its run. Frozen really has had an amazing run. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit placed in fifth this weekend with $9 million, which was enough to raise its total to $30.4 million. While this latest Jack Ryan hasn't been a disaster at the box office, I still doubt that Paramount will greenlight a sequel.

The lone new release this weekend was I, Frankenstein which finished in sixth place with $8.6 million. The $65 million fantasy was the latest mid-budget film to flop at the box office. I, Frankenstein also received a "B" Cinemascore, which means that audiences will likely not stick around for this one much longer. Why anyone greenlit that film, we will never know. The only Oscar film that has stayed near the top of the box office has been American Hustle, which finished in seventh place with $7 million. That's enough to raise American Hustle's total to $127 million. That's a phenomenal total for the film and it will only go higher from here.

The Wolf of Wall Street has also stayed strong at the box office and finished in eighth this weekend with $5.4 million. The raunchy comedy has now grossed $98.5 million and will certainly cross $100 million by the end of the week. August: Osage County finished in ninth place with $5 million and has now grossed $26.5 million. The family dramedy has seen strong success at the box office so far, but I don't see this film going much higher than $50 million. And Devil's Due rounded out the top ten with $2.7 million which was enough to raise the film's total to $12.9 million.

Next weekend sees the release of Labor Day and That Awkward Moment. Here are my early predictions:

1. That Awkward Moment- $12.8 million
2. Ride Along- $12.5 million
3. Labor Day- $11.1 million
4. Lone Survivor- $8.1 million
5. The Nut Job- $7.8 million
6. Frozen- $7.7 million
7. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit- $6.1 million
8. American Hustle- $5.5 million
9. I, Frankenstein- $4.1 million
10. The Wolf of Wall Street- $3.9 million


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit review

The spy genre has been popular for many decades, but in recent years has seen a revitalization. Whether it was Daniel Craig's modern update of James Bond, Matt Damon's gritty Jason Bourne or Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt, the espionage genre was consistently delivering films that exceeded all expectations. However, there was one action hero that Hollywood just could not rejuvenate. Jack Ryan was given a reboot with 2002's The Sum of All Fears, but it was a critical and box office misfire. The Jack Ryan franchise was pretty much abandoned. But now, Jack Ryan gets another reboot with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This slick spy thriller stars Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley and is an obvious attempt at starting another Jack Ryan franchise. And while I hope that the franchise can continue, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a slow, boring start. It features some great action scenes and thrilling moments, but in the end, its poor pacing and lackluster dialogue prevents the film from being anything special.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit tells the story of the titular CIA agent (Chris Pine). Ryan is a college student when the World Trade Center is destroyed by terrorists on 9/11. Ryan decides to join the military and fight for his country, but is then injured in a helicopter crash. Rehab begins for Ryan and eventually he ends up working for Harper (Kevin Costner), a CIA agent. Ryan works at a Wall Street firm while also working for the CIA. Eventually, Ryan discovers a scheme that will be put into effect by Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) to send America into another great depression. Suddenly, Ryan finds himself thrust into action and fighting criminals that he doesn't truly understand.

I was pretty excited for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I actually have not seen any of the other films in the series, but I love the spy genre and figured that director Kenneth Branagh could produce a great reboot of the character. Plus, the cast is pretty spectacular. It's now safe to say that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a major disappointment, a film that has little to offer besides a few exhilarating action scenes. The first half of this movie is awful and while the second half is better, you're never invested enough in the action to care. I see quite a bit of potential in the Jack Ryan franchise, but none of it was on the screen in Shadow Recruit.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a multitude of problems, but none bigger than the fact that the first half of this film is dreadfully awful. There's just nothing there. It's so dull, lifeless and boring. Nothing of consequence happens and spy cliches are thrown out like crazy. The dialogue is tedious, the plotting is poorly paced and the film has no tension whatsoever. For about fifty minutes, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a shockingly awful film. It was so bad. I absolutely couldn't believe it. I had high expectations for this film and I was so surprised at how bad the film was. Good thing that the second half is packed with great action scenes and thrills. Otherwise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit might have been my first ever "F" review.

In addition, I never felt that any of the actors were very good. Chris Pine is great in Star Trek but he's not that good in this film. His Jack Ryan is just incredibly boring. Keira Knightley is not that good either and Kevin Costner is just okay as Harper. Kenneth Branagh probably gives the best performance out of the cast as a whole. He has some bad moments, but at least his character has some personality. The rest of the cast is just mundane.

One of the things that the recent Bond and Mission: Impossible films have done well is humor. Those franchises each have their own respective source of comic relief; whether it's Benji in M:I4 or Q in Skyfall. And that's another thing that Jack Ryan doesn't have. There's no humor in this film at all. I don't think I ever laughed once. Not that you exactly need to laugh in spy movies, but I feel like there needs to be some sort of comic relief. If the Jack Ryan franchise is going to continue, it needs to find some source of comic relief.

Despite all the negative things that I have to say about this film, I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of this film and believe that Branagh did a great job directing the action. The second half just flows a lot better. The dialogue has a greater sense of urgency and purpose, the plot is paced well, and the action is more tense. While the action in this film never reaches the spectacle level of Skyfall or Ghost Protocol nor does it achieve the sheer thrill of Paul Greengrass' Bourne film, it still is pretty cool. The final scenes have great tension and some of the scenes in Russia are pretty thrilling as well.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a film that I received some enjoyment out of at the end, but really never got into. It's merely a mediocre film. It gives you enough that you're entertained, but never enough that you really care what's going on or are truly compelled by the film. There are some good action scenes, but the first half is flat-out awful. They kind of cancel each other out in the end and if your film tastes are anything like mine, you'll leave the theater saying "The action was good, but that first half was awful." And it is. Jack Ryan is really a film of two halves and because of that, I really can't say that I recommend it.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                               (5.5/10)




Monday, January 20, 2014

Ride Along review

Kevin Hart has seen a meteoric rise to the top of the comedy world. While Hart has mainly been seen as a supporting player, he's beginning to get more and more starring roles in Hollywood. Kevin Hart's first real Hollywood vehicle, Ride Along, premiered this weekend. With $48.1 million already in the bank, Kevin Hart's first bona fide success has come with this movie. The marketing put Hart at the forefront and did a great job selling this movie. Word of mouth has been great from audiences (they gave it an "A" Cinemascore), but critics have lambasted the film. Going into this film, I was curious as to which side I would fall on. I loved the trailers, but it's still a comedy released in January. After seeing the film, I can assure you that Ride Along isn't terrible, but it certainly is not a good movie

Ride Along tells the story of Ben Barber (Kevin Hart). He's stuck in his job as a school security officer and is desperately hoping to get into the police academy. One of the few shining lights in Barber's world is his girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). They love each other and want to get married, but first, Ben must get the blessing of Angela's brother, James (Ice Cube) Payton. James despises Ben because of some vaguely referenced incident and doesn't want him to marry Angela. However, James decides that he has to give him a shot. He offers to take Ben on a ride along and says that if Ben impresses him, he can marry Angela. And then, relentless buddy cop cliches and laughs ensue.

Ride Along looked very promising from the trailers. It had a lot of funny gags and focused on Hart, who I think is very funny. However, I was worried when reviews started pouring in. I wasn't sure if the film would be any good and it turned out to be pretty mediocre. The first two-thirds of Ride Along are disastrous and just flat-out boring. Hart's comedic talents are wasted and I was left wondering if anyone had written any jokes for Hart that were not in the trailer. Ice Cube was so mediocre and it just seemed like nobody cared. Then the last third of the movie was actually pretty entertaining. I thought that there were a few good scenes and some nice action pieces. But still, it's not enough for me to recommend this film. It's a pretty mediocre comedy that is filled with cliches and actually isn't all that funny.

Ride Along's first problem is the plot. It's absolutely awful. The script is so poorly written and deals with cliches that are so obvious and predictable. When Ride Along focuses on the relationship between Ben and James, it's awful. It's so stupid and just moves from one predictable, cliched scene to the next. When it focuses on Ben's pursuit of "Omar", this mysterious crime lord, it's a little funnier, but still poorly written. The double-cross by two characters, the appearance of one mysterious character, the kidnapping of another: this film is so stupidly predictable, it's not even funny. The writers do nothing new here.

Ride Along would probably be a better movie if it was actually consistently funny. It's not. Ride Along is sporadically funny. While watching this movie, I realized at one point that I hadn't laughed during the last fifteen minutes of the movie. That's a bad sign. For the first two-thirds of this movie, the only funny things are the jokes that were in the trailer. The last third has some funnier bits, but they still aren't any funnier than a network TV sitcom.

 I've already mentioned that I felt like Hart was wasted here. His talents could be used in much funnier and more innovative films, and I was disappointed that Ride Along did nothing to use him better. But Hart shouldn't feel bad, because this movie really didn't do anything with any of the cast members. Ice Cube's character is thinly written and boring. Tika Sumpter is useless. And John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen add nothing to the film. Heck, most of the supporting characters add nothing but another pile of cliches to the film.

Ride Along also has an ending problem. It should end in one spot. Heck, I was almost certain that the characters who keep the movie going had been killed already. But they weren't, and the movie keeps going. And the most ridiculous part is that none of it makes sense. One of the characters gets shot and has to go to the hospital. But when he has to save the day, everybody forgets about the injury. What? In addition, Ben impersonates a crime lord in one scene and two of the criminals in the room have seen Ben before and know that he isn't a crime lord. When I look back on movie to review them, it's things like these that bring down the film's grade.

However, there were a few redeeming qualities to Ride Along that I enjoyed. Hart does have some funny gags, but for most of the movie, they're few and far between. He does have one genuinely great scene towards the end, but it goes on for way too long. The final act isn't terrible and I was into the movie. But if you look back on it, the final act makes little sense and goes on for too long. So, while there were a few good things about Ride Along, they don't really help save the movie that much.

This is one of those movies where my opinion of it changes is I write the review. Looking back on it now, I can safely say that Ride Along is a pretty disappointing comedy. It's so insanely predictable and cliched and doesn't even try to use the talent that it has. Hart is funny and the last act is genuinely enjoyable, but it's still too little too late. I think that if you want a really good buddy cop comedy, you should stay home and watch Hot Fuzz. Don't bother with Ride Along, because I'm pretty sure that you've already seen it in one way or another.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D+                                            (4.8/10)


Nebraska review

Alexander Payne is one of the most interesting directors in Hollywood at this point. Payne specializes in making small films that focus on family and characters that you can really relate to. One of my favorite films of 2011 was The Descendants, Payne's film that looked at Hawaii with a much different eye than most other films. His Hawaii was one of sadness, tragedy, and dark humor. Payne returns this year with Nebraska, a film about the bleak, harsh landscape of middle America. Anchored by a solid performance from Bruce Dern and excellent supporting turns from Will Forte and June Squibb, Nebraska is another solid entry into the Alexander Payne canon.

Nebraska tells the story of Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), an elderly Montana man who thinks that he's won a million dollar sweepstakes prize. Woody's wife, Kate (June Squibb), won't take him to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up his prize, so he starts walking there himself. Woody's son David (Will Forte) finds him and then agrees to take him to Lincoln. Woody is pretty much out of it most of the time, but is determined to get his million dollars in Lincoln. However, David decides to take a detour into Hawthorne, which is Woody's hometown. What's supposed to be a quick trip to visit family in Hawthorne before getting Woody's prize becomes a quick nightmare, as word of Woody's fortune spreads fast and the residents of the town decide that it's a good idea to get a buck out of the man. 

Nebraska is a bit of a slow movie.  The story isn't really dense or complex and the becomes a bit long-winded near the end. However, Nebraska works so well because director Alexander Payne knows how to make you relate to these characters and maybe find some connection to them. As a person who has family in small-town Midwestern America, I related to the bleak emptiness of Nebraska. There really is nothing in some of these small towns and Nebraska knows that and conveys it with depressing honesty. In addition, the family depicted in this film felt familiar in some way. They're not exactly like my family, but I felt some kind of personal connection, which was interesting. All in all, I really felt like the love and care put into these characters by Payne and screenwriter Bob Nelson was what made this movie special.

Another thing that made Nebraska a memorable film was its black and white cinematography. Something about the way that this film is shot makes Nebraska seem like a film from a different era. There's a little grittiness that is thrown on top of the black and white, which adds even more to the impact. I really dug what Payne was going for here with this cinematography and there is absolutely no way that it could have been done any better. It really is one of the strengths of the film and it adds so much. I really wish that more films utilized black and white. I'll never understand why they don't. Of course, it won't work for all films, but in some cases, I think that black and white would be a good fit. 

The performances in Nebraska are also great. Bruce Dern anchors the film and gives a sad, somewhat heartbreaking performance. Dern does a great job acting pretty much like a young kid in an elderly body, and makes you care about the character. I don't think that his performance is one the level of Ejiofor or Bale or some of the other actors this year, but I felt like he did a good job making you care about the character. Will Forte has some great scenes as well and does a really good job in this movie. Stacy Keach and Bob Odenkirk also have some good scenes in supporting roles. But the real standout is June Squibb. As the spitfire mother Kate, Squibb delivers some of the best lines of the film and does it while making a real, believable character. What a performance.

Nebraska's script is also pretty strong. Bob Nelson did a good at finding interesting little quirks in each character, but also fleshes them out fully. There isn't much to be said about the actual story; it's more of a framework to look at these characters. However, Nelson still manages to hook you with his narrative and you actually get sucked into the story. Credit should also go to Payne for directing the screenplay with such precision. Nebraska is a very well-directed film and I think that Payne did a very good job.

Despite all of the interesting things that make Nebraska a good, unique film, it does still have flaws. The main flaw that I had with Nebraska is that it's simply too long. The film runs for an hour and fifty-five minutes, which normally would be a pretty good, compact runtime. However, Nebraska is a pretty slow, dour film and the length eventually wore on me. There's a little too much time spent in Hawthorne and there are a few scenes that could have been cut out. In addition, the film could end in one spot, but instead it just keeps going. The ending actually is very good, but I still think that Nebraska could be ten or fifteen minutes shorter.

All in all, Nebraska is a very good movie that's definitely different from your typical comedy. The black and white is used to perfection and the characters in this film are superbly written and easy to relate to. Nebraska is a little too long in the middle and could have cut a few scenes out, but in the end, Nebraska is an easy recommendation for me. I think that it's a film that many people will enjoy and I highly recommend that you give it a shot.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                                (8/10)



"12 Years A Slave" and "Gravity" tie for Best Picture at the Producers Guild Awards

The Oscar season lasts for about half of the year, as precursor awards are handed out starting in December. Some years, there is a clear front-runner that dominates the awards circuit and takes home every single award. Other years, the race develops throughout the year. Last year, that was the case. Zero Dark Thirty won awards in the beginning of the season, but eventually Argo took home a lot of awards, was the clear front-runner and won Best Picture at the Oscars. This year, I don't even remotely have a clue who will win. American Hustle won the New York Film Critics Award. Her took home the award from the National Board of review and tied with Gravity for the Los Angeles critics award. 12 Years A Slave won the award from the BFCA and also won Best Drama at the Golden Globes. American Hustle also took home Best Comedy at the Golden Globes and won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. And just as I thought that Hustle was now the clear Best Picture front-runner, the Producers Guild throws a curveball, awarding their Best Picture prize to 12 Years A Slave and Gravity. That's right, there was a tie.

The Producers Guild Awards are typically the best Oscar prognosticator. Since 1989 (the first year the Producers Guild gave out awards), the guild has matched the Oscars 17 out of 24 times. That's a pretty good average. So it's safe to say I was watching these awards closely last night. I was expecting American Hustle to take home something, but it ended up a tie between Gravity and 12 Years A Slave. That's very interesting. For one thing, I didn't think that Gravity was really still in this race. I've thought of the film as the third option behind 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle ever since those films opened. But it looks like it is still very much in this race. And the more that I think about it, the more I realize that it really could win.

Gravity was the first of the nine best picture nominees to open in theaters. It opened on October 4 and was a major commercial hit. It also received rave reviews that considered the film to be THE front-runner for Best Picture. But then, the critics moved on to bigger and better things like 12 Years and Hustle, mostly forgetting about Gravity. It won a few awards, but was mostly stuck as a nominee. It was even beaten out by 12 Years A Slave last week at the Golden Globes. But now, the Producers Guild has put Gravity right back in this race. Next weekend is the Directors Guild awards show and I truly believe that Cuaron is the front-runner there. If Gravity takes that award home, I think that we can safely call it the favorite.

Yet that is far from a guarantee. One of the other big Oscar precursor awards show is the Writers Guild Awards. I think that there is a very small chance of Gravity winning the screenplay award at the WGA and believe that the award will go to a film like American Hustle or 12 Years A Slave. That leaves the race in uncertainty. There aren't many other big awards shows left. We could actually have the first Oscar night where we have no idea who will take home the top award. Who knows? Maybe there will even be a tie.





Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Ride Along" breaks January record with $41.2 million, "Lone Survivor" still strong, "Jack Ryan" soft at weekend box office

It turns out that people really love Kevin Hart. His comedy, Ride Along, which also stars Ice Cube, destroyed the box office this weekend. The buddy cop film took in $41.2 million, which was enough to take the January opening weekend record from 2008's Cloverfield. That's an excellent opening for the comedy which only cost $25 million to make. And the good news doesn't stop there for Ride Along. The film is supposed to make even more money on Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, which could bump its four day weekend total over $50 million. In addition, Ride Along received an "A" Cinemascore. That's quite different from the film's 16% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. I'll be seeing the film in the near future, so I'll be able to let you guys know which side I fall on.

Lone Survivor took a small 39% dip this weekend. It fell to second place and grossed $23.2 million. The war drama has seen strong word of mouth and should continue to play well throughout the winter months. Lone Survivor has grossed $74 million so far which, as one box office pundit noted, is more than Battleship took in during its entire run. Pretty crazy. Open Road's The Nut Job finished in third this weekend with $20.5 million. The film, which has been lambasted by critics, received a "B" Cinemascore, which is much lower than the "A"s and "A+"s that animated films typically get. I doubt that The Nut Job will hold on much longer, as the next animated film is not far behind (The LEGO Movie is released on February 7).

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit grossed $17.2 million this weekend in fourth place. The $60 million action film from Paramount took in grosses that were slightly below expectations. However, international grosses were solid, which could indicate some overseas support. Shadow Recruit received a lukewarm "B" Cinemascore. Frozen continued its spectacular run this weekend with $11.9 million in fifth place. The Disney animated film has now grossed $332.6 million in the US alone, and is currently sitting at $759.1 million worldwide. Safe to say that Disney has quite the smash on their hands with Frozen.

American Hustle received a big bump this weekend after it took home 3 Golden Globes and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. The 1970's set comedy grossed $10.6 million in sixth place this weekend. American Hustle has now grossed $116.4 million, which is the second highest gross out of the nominees for Best Picture (Gravity has grossed $258.3 million). The only other wide release this weekend was Devil's Due. The horror film grossed $8.5 million in seventh place and received a "D+" Cinemascore. It's safe to say that I don't expect Devil's Due to stay around much longer.

August: Osage County also saw a bump from its two Oscar nominations, as it finished in eighth place this weekend with $7.5 million. August: Osage County has now grossed $18.1 million, and if it keeps up like this, could finish as high as $75 million. The Wolf of Wall Street took a small drop this weekend down to ninth place. Wolf grossed $7.5 million and has now grossed $90.2 million. If Oscar buzz continues, Wolf of Wall Street could finish as high as $130 million. And rounding out the top ten was Saving Mr. Banks. The Oscar snub grossed $4.1 million this weekend and has now grossed $75.3 million overall.

Next weekend sees the release of I, Frankenstein. Here are my predictions:

1. Ride Along- $23.2 million
2. I, Frankenstein- $19.6 million
3. Lone Survivor- $14.5 million
4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit- $9 million
5. The Nut Job- $8.9 million
6. American Hustle- $8.6 million
7. Frozen- $8.4 million
8. August: Osage County- $7.1 million
10. The Wolf of Wall Street- $6.6 million



Saturday, January 18, 2014

SAG Awards Live Blog!

Welcome to the SAG Awards Live Blog! As you know, I did this last week for the Golden Globes, and I had so much fun that I just had to do it for the SAGs as well. I'll be updating this throughout the night so keep watching!

-The actors are doing their introductions right now. Always love this part. Lots of fun.

-Steve Coogan is always so entertaining at these awards shows. Great introduction.

-The Awards show is finally starting and Matt Damon is here!

-The first award is for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie. I've got Lawrence here. Let's see.

-They're showing some great scenes in this montage. June Squibb is fantastic in Nebraska.

-And the SAG Award goes to......Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years A Slave!

-This changes things in the Oscar race.

-This makes the race between Lawrence and Nyong'o a lot closer in my mind.

-Renner, Adams and Cooper are on stage now. They're talking about Hustle I'm sure.

-American Hustle is such a fantastic film. See it if you haven't already.

-Wow. They're hitting Best Supporting Actor in a Supporting Role already. That's kind of surprising.

-Hoping that Bruhl can take home this award. There's no real shot, but a man can still hope!

-And the SAG Award goes to......Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club!

-No surprise here. Leto continues his march to the Oscar.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE




Jennifer Lawrence, AMERICAN HUSTLE

Lupita Nyong'o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Julia Roberts, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

June Squibb, NEBRASKA

Oprah Winfrey, LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

And the SAG Award goes to.......Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years A Slave!

This really tightens the Oscar race. I was sure that Lawrence would take this one again, but the SAG ended up going to Nyong'o. Both are deserving performance, and at this point it's a dead heat. After a few more of these precursor awards, I'll be able to really tell who's going to take the Oscar, but for now, I'm calling it a dead tie.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


Barkhad Abdi, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Daniel Bruhl, RUSH

Michael Fassbender, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

James Gandolfini, ENOUGH SAID

Jared Leto, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

And the SAG Award goes to........Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Leto just continues to march his way to the Oscars. I don't see any way that another actor wins over him. His speech this time around was really good as well. Good to see Bruhl nominated I guess.

-Kevin Spacey and Kerry Washington are on stage now announcing Best Actress in a Comedy.

-I predict that Tina Fey wins this one. Last year for 30 Rock wins her this award.

-And the SAG Award goes to.......Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep!

-She's really good on that show, so I can't say that I'm too surprised. She's giving a really entertaining speech here.

-She's acting like her character on the show. This is absolutely hilarious.

-Now, we're moving on to Best Male Actor in a Comedy series.

-I've got Burrell here. I don't really know why. Cheadle could win as well. I believe that he won last year. Hoping for Parsons though.

-And the SAG Award goes to.........Ty Burrell, Modern Family

-Hey, I got it right! Had no idea who the favorite was, but I figured that Modern Family was the favorite for most categories. Nice pick by me.

-Oprah and Forest Whitaker are on stage for Lee Daniels' The Butler.

-John Goodman is now on stage for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy series.

-I would like for The Big Bang Theory to win. I wouldn't mind Modern Family or Arrested Development either. Veep's funny as well. They're all good.

-I predict that Veep will take this one.

-And the SAG Award goes to.......Modern Family!!!!

-Maybe I overestimated Veep a bit.

-Of course they get Sofia Vergara to talk. That's a given.

-Now we go to commercial break.

-And now we're talking about unions! Okay, then.

-The SAG president is giving a weird speech. I don't really even know what's going on.

-"And don't forget our four-legged soldiers in the military: the canines!"- SAG President. What was that speech?

-Ugh. There's a TV movie/Miniseries category at the SAG awards too?

-Yay! Jacqueline Bisset isn't nominated!

-And the SAG Award goes to.....Helen Mirren for Phil Spector!

-And now Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep are now introducing August: Osage County.

-Still haven't seen Osage County. Don't know if I ever will.

-Emma Thompson and Ewan McGregor are now on stage. Thompson's really been acting interesting on the awards circuit.

-And we're back. Douglas won for Behind the Candelabra. Made some interesting remarks. Looks like the Lifetime Achievement Award is next.

-Looks like Rita Moreno is getting the Lifetime achievement award this year. Love the West Side Story music in the background.

-Forget that she was in Singin in the Rain. One of the best movies ever. Love the West Side Story clip as well.

-Rita Moreno was a great choice for this year's award. Loved the montage that they put together.

-Interesting dance Moreno just did on the stage. And she was just censored.

-Moreno's giving quite the interesting speech here. Funny, but a little odd. She can definitely still sing.

-Good speech. A little odd, but I enjoyed it.

-There are still a lot of awards to hand out and only so much time. Will they get done with the whole thing in time?

-Best Female Actor in a Drama Series is the next award. Claire Danes could win but I think that Anna Gunn is going to win for Breaking Bad.

-And the SAG Award goes to......Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey!

-Bit of a surprise there. I always thought that she was a supporting actress on the show.

-Ejiofor, Nyong'o, Cumberbatch and Paulson are now on stage to introduce 12 Years A Slave.

-Now, Best Male Actor in a Drama series is up. Bryan Cranston is taking this one again.

-And the SAG Award goes to........Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad!

-No surprise there, Cranston has dominated the Awards circuit so far.

-Cranston has a lot of energy and this speech is fantastic.

-The SAG audience loved that one.

-The "In Memoriam" section is up next.

-Sad stuff. We're at commercial now. The big awards are up next.

-Over-dramatic winner montage. Yawn.

-Tina Fey is here to announce Best Ensemble in a Drama TV Series.

-Breaking Bad has this one easily. I'll be shocked if it doesn't win.

-And the SAG Award goes to.......Breaking Bad!!!!

-Breaking Bad wins for the first time. Wow.

-They're really cranking down on the time limits on this thing. Looks like they're moving. Cranston really rushed through that speech.

-Now we've got Leto and McConaughey introducing Dallas Buyers Club.

-Looks like Jennifer Lawrence is here to announce a category. It's Best Actor. Wow.

-I've got Bruce Dern here. But the logical choice is McConaughey.

-And the SAG Award goes to.......Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club!!!!

-This solidifies it: Matthew McConaughey is the favorite for Best Actor.

-Best Actress and Best Ensemble is all that's left. Cate Blanchett will win Best Actress and I've got American Hustle in the ensemble category.

-De Niro is up on stage now presenting Best Actress.

-Cate Blanchett, right?

-And the SAG Award goes to........Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

-Blanchett has also locked up the Oscar.

-They're really trying to wrap up this show. Why? They're just going to play the awards again and the actors are just going to get drunk.

-This is the big one. And they're not playing the clips.

-And the award goes to the cast of.........American Hustle!!!!

-Yeah! GO HUSTLE!

-American Hustle is now the Oscar front-runner. I'm calling that now.

-Cooper is giving a great speech.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE


Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Tom Hanks, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Matthew McConaughey, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Forest Whitaker, LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

And the SAG Award goes to.....Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

This was one of my most anticipated awards of the night, because I wanted to know if McConaughey was really the favorite in this category. Now, it's solidified. I think that DiCaprio and Ejiofor still have a shot, but McConaughey is definitely the favorite at this point. We'll see what happens at some of the other awards, but I don't see his status changing any time soon.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE

Sandra Bullock, GRAVITY

Judi Dench, PHILOMENA

Meryl Streep, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS

And the SAG Award goes to.........Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Blanchett continues her march to the Oscar as well. Her and Leto are our locks at this point. I just cannot see any of the other contenders beating her out. Maybe another one of the actresses can top her at some point during these next couple months, but it's a long shot.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE

12 YEARS A SLAVE

AMERICAN HUSTLE

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

And the SAG Award goes to........American Hustle

American Hustle also solidifies itself here as the Oscar favorite. 12 Years A Slave can still get some love, but I think that American Hustle is the logical choice. We'll see how it does at the WGA awards, the PGA awards and the DGA awards. Those are the next tests for Hustle.

-That's my live blog for this evening. I hope you enjoyed it. Come back to the site soon!

The Movie Guru's SAG Award Predictions

We're in the heat of awards season right now, as the Oscar nominations were just announced on Thursday, the Golden Globes were last Sunday, and tonight are the SAG awards. This is another awards show that will hint at what's to come on Oscar Sunday. Apparently, Lone Survivor and Game of Thrones already won the awards for stunt crews. But there still are a lot of awards to hand out. Here are my predictions for the film categories at tonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards. Predicted winners are noted in bold print.



OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE


12 YEARS A SLAVE

AMERICAN HUSTLE

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

American Hustle is a traditional ensemble film and has a stunning cast of actors. I think that 12 Years A Slave is the closest competition here, but I believe that American Hustle is the clear favorite. I would believe that the SAG would go for an actor's film, but I could be wrong. I think that Lee Daniels' The Butler and August: Osage County have an outside shot, but I think that this race is down to Hustle and Slave. And I think that American Hustle comes out on top.


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE


Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Tom Hanks, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Matthew McConaughey, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Forest Whitaker, LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

The fact that this is the Screen Actor's Guild, an awards show that solely recognizes actors and casts, leads me to believe that Bruce Dern will pull off the upset here for his performance in Nebraska. It's a good performance and Dern has been in Hollywood forever. I think that McConaughey is the smartest choice, but I'm going with the upset here.


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE

Sandra Bullock, GRAVITY

Judi Dench, PHILOMENA

Meryl Streep, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS

Cate Blanchett all the way here. Since Blue Jasmine was released, Blanchett has been the favorite and I don't see anything different happening here. Maybe Judi Dench has an outside chance at pulling off the win, but I don't see it right now.


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


Barkhad Abdi, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Daniel Bruhl, RUSH

Michael Fassbender, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

James Gandolfini, ENOUGH SAID

Jared Leto, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

This is another one in the win column for Jared Leto. The actor has dominated the awards circuit so far, and I don't see any reason why he won't get recognized here as well. I'm hoping for the win by Bruhl, and I can see Gandolfini as a dark horse, but I still see Leto taking this one home.


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE



Jennifer Lawrence, AMERICAN HUSTLE

Lupita Nyong'o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Julia Roberts, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

June Squibb, NEBRASKA

Oprah Winfrey, LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

Jennifer Lawrence is the favorite here. After taking home the Golden Globe last weekend, I see no reason why she wouldn't take home the SAG trophy as well. Lupita Nyong'o is also a strong contender and you never can count out Oprah, but I think that Lawrence has the best chance here.

Those are my predictions for the SAG Awards. Let me know yours in the comments section. And be sure to tune in to The Movie Guru's Blog at 8PM EST for my SAG Awards live blog!

Warner Bros. pushes "Batman vs. Superman" to May 6, 2016

Some big news broke late last night about Warner Bros. upcoming Superman/Batman tentpole. The film currently doesn't have an official title, so I've just stuck to calling it "Batman vs. Superman." The superhero flick starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane and Gal Gadot has been pushed from July 17, 2015 to May 6, 2016. That's a big shift for the film (9 months). Here was Warner Bros. explanation:

"Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that the release of Zack Snyder's untitled Superman/Batman film has been moved to May 6, 2016, allowing the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story. The decision was made following the shift of the start of production to second quarter of this year. The Studio has also set a July 17, 2015, worldwide release date for its as-yet-untitled all-new Peter Pan adventure. Joe Wright will direct the epic live-action film about the boy who would never grow up, created by J.M. Barrie. The dual date announcement was made by Dan Fellman, President, Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenbeg, President, International Distrubtion, Warner Bros. Pictures.

"In making the announcement, Fellman stated, "We are happy to take advantage of these coveted summer dates, which are perfect for two of our biggest tentpole releases. We share the fans' excitement to see DC Comics' most popular figures, Superman and Batman, together on the big screen for the first time, which will now be arriving in theatres in May 2016. Peter Pan has delighted people of every generation for more than a century, so we are thrilled to bring him back to the screen next summer for today's moviegoers."

"Kwan Vandenberg added, "We know that there is already great anticipation building for the next Super Hero film from Zack Snyder, and we are equally eager to see what he has in store for Superman and Batman as they share the big screen for the first time ever. The summer release corridor is also perfect for Joe Wright's ambitious new Peter Pan adventure, reimagining the ageless story of the beloved and forever-young hero for audiences worldwide."

"Zack Snyder's Superman/Batman film stars Henry Cavill, reprising his role as Superman/Clark Kent, and Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The film also reunite "Man of Steel" stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane, and also stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince

"Snyder will direct the film from a screenplay written by David S. Goyer, from a story co-created by Goyer and Snyder. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan and Wesley Coller serving as executive producers.

"The film is based on Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Batman characters created by Bob Kane, and Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston, published by DC Entertainment.

"The new Peter Pan adventure will be directed by Joe Wright from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs, incorporating J.M. Barrie's classic characters. The film is being produced by Greg Berlanti and Paul Webster."

That was an incredibly long press announcement. I can't say that I care too much about either one of these films. I'm a little bit more excited for the new Peter Pan feature, because the last one (2003's Peter Pan) was not a hit. Wright is a director that people love, so that's a positive sign. In regards to Superman vs. Batman, Man of Steel sucked so I can't muster about too much excitement. I just wonder how this will impact Live by Night, Ben Affleck's next directorial feature, which is currently set for release on December 25, 2015. It's based off of an excellent book, so I'm very excited. We'll see if my excitement for the new Batman and Superman flick can ever get any higher. I'm not so sure.


Reaction to the Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday and things turned out quite different from what I had predicted. I think that I ended up predicting 73/107 of the nominations right, which isn't too awful. But still, there were a lot of snubs and surprises when the nominations were released. Here's a breakdown of what caught my eye on Thursday:

-No nominations for Rush


Sure, maybe you thought that Ron Howard's Rush was just a standard sports drama. I don't agree with you, but I respect your opinion. However, I don't see how Rush got absolutely no Oscar nominations. Daniel Bruhl was the most noticeable snub. His performance was worthy of a supporting actor nomination and that went to Jonah Hill instead. And then the technical categories. Rush is not only an intriguing story and thrilling film, it's incredibly well constructed. The sound, the cinematography, everything in Rush is perfect. And Rush got nothing. No sound categories, no editing, no cinematography. It got no nominations. That's a shame. A real shame. Despite the film's lack of Oscar nominations, I highly encourage that you pick the film up when it's released on Blu-Ray on January 28.

-No love for Inside Llewyn Davis


I've been thinking a lot about this snub. Inside Llewyn Davis is a great film and it got no love from the Academy at all besides a sound mixing and cinematography nomination. That's disappointing. And yet it is so fitting. Inside Llewyn Davis is a film about a man who can't get any recognition or love despite his immense talent. That's exactly what happened with the Oscar nominations for this film. It's disappointing, but it fits the theme of the film.

-The Wolf of Wall Street gets a lot of nominations


I was thinking that The Wolf of Wall Street might get a nomination for Best Picture and probably Best Actor and Best Screenplay. And that's about it. The Wolf of Wall Street ended up with five nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. That's a lot of nominations for a film that has been deemed so controversial. The nomination for Jonah Hill is especially shocking since pretty much nobody even thought he had a shot. I think that there may now be a little more support for the Wolf than we previously thought. I'll have to keep an eye on that.

-The Lone Ranger gets more nominations than Saving Mr. Banks


When the biggest flop of the year gets more Oscar love than the ultimate Academy Awards-bait film, you know as a studio that you've done something wrong. Disney's mega-flop The Lone Ranger received two Oscar nominations: one for Best Makeup and one for Best Visual Effects. Disney drama Saving Mr. Banks received one Oscar nomination for best Original Score. That's pretty surprising, as most people expected Emma Thompson to be a lock for Mr. Banks (Streep topped her there). Well, maybe Disney can advertise The Lone Ranger as an Oscar nominee now. That would be fun.

-Streep gets her eighteenth nomination over Emma Thompson


The Academy loves Meryl Streep. This was proven again this week as Streep was nominated for her turn as Violet Weston in August: Osage County. She beat out Emma Thompson, an actress who at one point was considered a lock. Even though I didn't love Mr. Banks, I did think that Thompson was good, so it's a little surprising that she was beat out. But then again, it IS Meryl Streep.

-Sally Hawkins and Julia Roberts get nominations over Oprah

One of the Best Supporting Actress nominees that I thought was a sure thing was Oprah Winfrey and I thought that Sally Hawkins and Julia Roberts would be fighting for that fifth spot. Turns out that both Hawkins and Roberts made it in and Oprah was left on the outside for her performance as Gloria Gaines in The Butler. Maybe The Butler just came out too early or maybe Harvey Weinstein didn't campaign enough for it, I don't really know. But Oprah and The Butler as a whole got shut out of the Oscar race.

-A lot of love for Dallas Buyers Club


I knew that Dallas Buyers Club had a lot of support, but I wasn't sure just how much it had. Dallas Buyers Club has REALLY strong support. Not only did the film get the expected Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations, but Dallas Buyers Club also received nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. That's a lot of support for the AIDS drama and I think that the film could end up taking home two or three of those.

-What the heck is Alone Yet Not Alone?

One of the weirdest moments from the Oscar nominations broadcast was when Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced that Alone Yet Not Alone was a nominee for Best Original Song. I had no idea what the film was and was puzzled by the nomination. It turns out that the film is a Christian movie about kids in the 1700's. And apparently, the composer of the film has some association with the Academy. Still, a weird choice. And can somebody tell me why Inside Llewyn Davis didn't get nominated in this category? Was it ineligible?

-Tom Hanks and Robert Redford get snubbed


We knew that two of the seven Best Actor contenders wouldn't get nominations, but who would really have thought that Hanks would be the one to miss the cut? Hanks give a spectacular performance in Captain Phillips, but he was snubbed and Christian Bale made it in instead for American Hustle. Redford also missed the cut, but I kind of expected that. Still, an interesting choice by the Academy.

-Pacific Rim doesn't get a visual effects nomination


Say what you will about Pacific Rim, but that film had some great effects. The robots and monsters looked awesome. That's why I was shocked when the film was snubbed in the visual effects category. I thought that it was sure thing.

Those are some of the things that I noticed when reading over the Oscar nominations? Were there any that you thought I missed? If so, let me know in the comments section.

Michael Douglas joins "Ant-Man" as Hank Pym

In big superhero casting news, Golden Globe Winning actor Michael Douglas (Last Vegas, Behind The Candelabra) has joined director Edgar Wright's Ant-Man. Douglas will play Hank Pym, the scientist who invents the Ant-Man technology. Marvel President Kevin Feige had this to say about getting Douglas to play the part:

"With Hank Pym's rich history in the Marvel universe, we knew we needed an actor capable of bringing the weight and stature to the role that the character deserves. We felt incredibly relieved when Michael Douglas agreed to step into the part with the charm and fortitude he brings to every character he inhabits, and couldn't be more excited to see what he will do to bring Hank Pym to life."

Also, Marvel has now confirmed that Paul Rudd will be playing Scott Lang, the character who will become Ant-Man. In addition to all of this news, reports are circling around that Michael Pena (American Hustle, End of Watch) has joined the cast in an unknown role. Out of all of the upcoming Marvel films, Ant-Man is one that is incredibly interesting to me. Edgar Wright (The World's End) is directing, which is an automatic positive and Joe Cornish is writing the script. Ant-Man seems like it will be something interesting, so I'm excited for it. I like the casting of Douglas and I hope that Rudd can do some good work as well. Ant-Man is currently set for release on July 31, 2015.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nominations Announced!

This morning, I was at school and yet I managed to watch the Oscar nominations. It was cool to watch them live and be part of the excitement. I posted my predictions yesterday, and I got quite a bit right. But there was a lot that I got wrong. Here is the full list of Oscar nominees. This isn't an analysis: just a list. I plan on fully dissecting the nominations in a later post. Here we go:

BEST PICTURE

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Nebraska
Philomena
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest and Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Missing Picture
Omar

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet From Stardom

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Phillip Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger Deakins, Prisoners

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Michael O'Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years A Slave

BEST FILM EDITING

Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Joe Walker, 12 Years A Slave

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity
Owen Butler and William Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"Alone Yet Not Alone", Alone Yet Not Alone
"Happy", Despicable Me 2
"Let It Go", Frozen
"The Moon Song", Her
"Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler, American Hustle
Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard, Gravity
Catherine Martin and Beverly Dunn, The Great Gatsby
KK Barrett and Gene Serdena, Her
Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker, 12 Years A Slave

BEST SOUND EDITING

Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All is Lost
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor

BEST SOUND MIXING

Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, and Chris Munro, Gravity
Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness

Those are your 2013 Oscar nominees (with the exception of the shorts). Look for my reaction to the nominees later this evening!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Final Predictions for the Oscar Nominations

Well, it's almost time. The Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow morning, which means that big things around the corner. For those that think who gets nominated doesn't matter, I urge you to take a look at last year. Argo was not really even in the best picture race when Oscar nominations were announced, but after Ben Affleck was snubbed in the director category, the race was upside down. Argo went on to win Best Picture. This year seems to be a three-way race, but a number of films could break into the race and gain momentum. Here are my final predictions for the Oscar nominations (alphabetical order):

BEST PICTURE

12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Gravity
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska
Rush
Saving Mr. Banks

On the Outside Looking In: August: Osage County, Philomena

Yes, I have two big surprises and a big snub in my predictions. I felt like going a bit wild with these. I feel like the support for Rush has been underestimated all season. The film got a Golden Globe nomination for best drama, which almost always has led to an Oscar nomination since the Academy expanded to 10 nominees. Also, Inside Llewyn Davis has a strong bit of support. I excluded The Wolf of Wall Street simply because I think that it's too divisive. 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle and Gravity are locks, Captain Phillips, Her and Nebraska seem like they're certain to get nominations and I strongly believe that Dallas Buyers Club's stock is rising.

BEST ACTOR

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

On the Outside Looking In: Christian Bale, American Hustle; Robert Redford, All is Lost

This is the toughest category to predict. There are seven actors who are deserving of a nomination and only five slots. What do you do? First, Redford is gone. He has little chance at this point. Bale also is doubtful, but that pretty much depends on the amount of support for American Hustle. He could surprise at this point. Right now, I have Dern getting in for sure, along with DiCaprio and Hanks. I can see Hanks not picking up a nomination, but I think that the starpower is too much. Other than that, I'm almost certain that Ejiofor and McConaughey are locks.

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

On the Outside Looking In: Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

I've got Streep with the snub here simply because I don't believe that there is that much support for August: Osage County. Thompson and Dench are on the bubble line, but the other three are safe bets in my opinion.

BEST DIRECTOR

Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Spike Jonze, Her
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle

On the Outside Looking In: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street; Alexander Payne, Nebraska

The support for Her seems to be rising, so I think that Jonze can nab a nomination here. Cuaron, McQueen and Russell are locks, and I believe that the Academy will recognize Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips. That leaves Scorsese and Payne on the outside. I think that Payne could switch with Greengrass or Jonze, but I'm not certain at this point.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

On the Outside Looking In: James Gandolfini, Enough Said; Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

I think that this is a pretty safe category. Cooper, Fassbender and Leto are sure-fire nominees and Abdi and Bruhl have a ton of support as well. I see Gandolfini getting snubbed simply because I don't believe that he ever really had much of an impact with the Academy. Hill won't get nominated, but he's one of the only other people that can possibly have a shot, so I've included him as well.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels' The Butler

On the Outside Looking In: Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Scarlett Johannson, Her

This is a weak category this year, so the set of nominees is pretty much a sure thing. The only vulnerable actress out of the category is Roberts and I still thing that she's likely to get a nomination. Sally Hawkins could play spoiler and the Academy could throw a curveball and include Johannson, but at this point, I'm pretty sure that our nominees are set in stone.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Her
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

On the Outside Looking In: Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity and Dallas Buyers Club have little to no shot of being nominated, but I've included them because we need someone out of the top five to have a shot. This category is one that I'm pretty certain of, so we'll see if the Academy throws a BIG curveball with this one.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

12 Years A Slave
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Philomena
The Wolf of Wall Street

On the Outside Looking In: August: Osage County, Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor received a WGA nomination, so an Oscar nomination is not off the table. But you have to remember that the screenplays for Philomena and 12 Years A Slave were ineligible, so that left the WGA with Lone Survivor. I think that Osage County could slip in if support for Wolf of Wall Street is as weak as I think it could be, but it's a long shot at best.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Croods
Ernest and Celestine
Frozen
Monsters University
The Wind Rises

On the Outside Looking In: Despicable Me 2

In a rather weak year for animation, these five nominees are almost guarantees.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Grandmaster
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
Two Lives

On the Outside Looking In: Omar

The fact that foreign film favorites like The Past and Blue is the Warmest Color can't be nominated is absurd, but the Academy still will be able to get five acclaimed films in there. I think that these nominees are pretty safe, but I don't really know this category all that well, so there's always room for surprises.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

20 Feet from Stardom
The Act of Killing
The Armstrong Lie
Blackfish
Stories We Tell

On the Outside Looking In: The Square

I'm going with the upset here and putting The Armstrong Lie in over The Square. I think that voters will embrace The Armstrong Lie, even though The Square might be a more interesting film.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Oz, The Great and Powerful

On the Outside Looking In: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I think that the production design on Oz is brighter and pops off the screen more than in Desolation, so I predict that Oz will get a nomination. The other four films are locks at this point.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

12 Years A Slave
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Prisoners
Rush

On the Outside Looking In: Nebraska, Captain Phillips

I took out Nebraska and Captain Phillips and put in Prisoners and Rush. Why? Because I think that the Academy needs to honor Prisoners in some way, and because Rush has a strong group of supporters. I feel like 12 Years A Slave could get excluded as well, but the odds are shaped heavily in the film's favor for this category.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
Oz, The Great and Powerful

On the Outside Looking In: Saving Mr. Banks

American Hustle, Oz and Gatsby are locks on this one, but I feel like Slave and The Invisible Woman are vulnerable. I think that the Academy will like the period detail on both of them and go for that over Mr. Banks, but I can never be sure.

BEST EDITING

12 Years A Slave
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Rush

On the Outside Looking In: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street probably won't get in because of its excessive length and I think that Rush will take its place. Other than that, this is a category that is pretty much locked up.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

On the Outside Looking In: Dallas Buyers Club

I know that Dallas Buyers Club is a heavy favorite in this category, but I don't quite see how it can top Irving Zisman and the Jackass crew. Hustle and Gatsby are locks again.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

12 Years A Slave
All is Lost
The Book Thief
Gravity
Saving Mr. Banks

On the Outside Looking In: Captain Phillips, Her, Rush

This is a competitive category but I think that we have three locks at this point: Gravity, Slave and All is Lost. The other two nominees could be swapped with Captain Phillips and Rush, but the odds of that are small.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"Atlas", The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
"Let It Go", Frozen
"The Moon Song", Her
"Ordinary Love", Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
"Young and Beautiful", The Great Gatsby

On the Outside Looking In: "Happy", Despicable Me 2

So, is Inside Llewyn Davis ineligible for this category or something? None of the songs were anywhere on GoldDerby's charts. Hmm. The nominees are pretty set in stone without Llewyn Davis involved. I only think that "Happy" from Despicable Me 2 has a shot, and even that is a slim one.

BEST SOUND EDITING

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Pacific Rim
Rush

On the Outside Looking In: Lone Survivor, 12 Years A Slave

I think that 12 Years A Slave has a good shot of getting in, but my gut is telling me that Pacific Rim will take the nomination instead. I also think that Lone Survivor could pull a surprise upset, but I have no idea what it would take out.

BEST SOUND MIXING

All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Inside Llewyn Davis
Rush

On the Outside Looking In: 12 Years A Slave

I don't have Pacific Rim on this list and instead I have Inside Llewyn Davis. 12 Years A Slave also didn't make the cut, but I can easily see it getting in. The other four contenders (Lost, Phillips, Gravity, Rush) are surefire nominees at this point.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Pacific Rim
Star Trek Into Darkness
World War Z

On the Outside Looking In: Iron Man 3

I never thought that the special effects on Iron Man 3 were all that spectacular, so I'm guessing that it doesn't get a nomination here. I've got World War Z as a nominee instead, but I really don't feel confident in that choice. None of this really matters anyways, because Gravity's going to win in the end.

Alright, so if you were wondering, based on my predictions, here are the number of nominations each film will receive:

12 Years A Slave- 11 nominations
American Hustle- 10 nominations
Gravity- 10 nominations
Captain Phillips- 8 nominations
Rush- 6 nominations
Inside Llewyn Davis- 4 nominations
Nebraska- 4 nominations
Her- 4 nominations
All is Lost- 3 nominations
Saving Mr. Banks- 3 nominations
Dallas Buyers Club- 3 nominations
The Great Gatsby- 3 nominations
Oz, The Great and Powerful- 2 nominations
The Wolf of Wall Street- 2 nominations
Blue Jasmine- 2 nominations
Philomena- 2 nominations
Frozen- 2 nominations
Pacific Rim- 2 nominations

All other films- 1 nomination

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Movie Guru's Top Fifteen films of 2013

The moment we've all been waiting for has finally arrived. After twelve long, awesome months, we finally reached the end of 2013 a couple weeks ago. Now, I'm finally here with my top fifteen list of the year. Yes, that's right, I'm doing a top fifteen list this year. There were just so many films that I wanted to honor. Ten simply wouldn't do.

I saw a ton of movies this year, but there were still some that I didn't see. I haven't seen Her or Lone Survivor yet, nor have I seen Dallas Buyers Club or Nebraska. Here's a breakdown of what counts and what doesn't count for this list.

-Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska are films that I hope to see in the near future, but they will not count on any top ten or fifteen lists since they opened in my area before December 31.

-Her and Lone Survivor will count as 2014 films since they opened in my area on January 10.

-And while Inside Llewyn Davis opened on January 10 in my area as well, I will be counting the film on this list since I've seen it.

So, I hope that clears everything up. I had hoped to get more films in, but it just became too much. Nonetheless, I saw a ton of films this year. Here is a full list

Oz, The Great and Powerful                                                                  
No
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone                                                          
Man of Steel
42                                                                                                        
The Conjuring
G.I. Joe Retaliation                                                                                
World War Z
The Croods                                                                                          
Monsters University
Iron Man 3                                                                                            
Despicable Me 2
Room 237                                                                                            
 Pacific Rim
Upstream Color                                                                                    
The Way, Way Back
The Great Gatsby                                                                                  
The Wolverine
Star Trek Into Darkness                                                                        
Elysium                                      
Fast and Furious 6                                                                                
The World's End
Now You See Me                                                                                
Lee Daniels' The Butler
Warm Bodies                                                                                        
Rush
Oblivion                                                                                                
Gravity
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2                                                    
Captain Phillips
Last Vegas                                                                                            
12 Years A Slave
Ender's Game                                                                                        
American Hustle
Thor: The Dark World                                                                          
Saving Mr. Banks
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire                                                          
Philomena
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug                                                    
Grudge Match
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues                                                    
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Place Beyond The Pines                                                                  
Frances Ha
Prisoners                                                                                              
Frozen

That brings me to a grand total of 46 movies this past year. That's a good total for the year. As I previously said, 2013 was the best year that I've covered as a film critic. There were so many impressive films. I mostly avoid the clunkers, so you won't see a ton of terrible films on the above list, but I did see some films that disappointed me. But when all was said and done, the following films were the ones that affected and stuck with me either for their emotional center, their craftsmanship or for their overall entertainment value. Here are my top fifteen films of 2013.

15. THE CONJURING


This fantastic horror feature almost didn't make my list. I had seen the film a couple more times since my initial viewing and I didn't necessarily feel like the film held up. However, the first time I saw this movie, I absolutely loved it. The Conjuring is a scary horror film. Director James Wan pumps frightening moment after frightening moment into the film. It really is a house of horrors. Despite its scariness, The Conjuring's best attribute is its setup. That is what sets The Conjuring apart from other horror fests. The film takes time to set up a compelling story and then hits you with the scary stuff. The 1970's period setting doesn't hurt the film either. All in all, The Conjuring is the single best horror film of the year and is sure to be a classic for many years in the future.


14. ELYSIUM


Elysium is certainly a step up for director Neill Blomkamp. His directorial debut, District 9, is a good film, but it's too gross for its own good and has a lack of drama and suspense. Elysium is a film that I loved initially. In my "A-" review, I called it one of the most "memorable films of the summer." It faded from my mind for a while, but after a second viewing, I really enjoyed it a lot. Elysium is a thrill ride from beginning to end and it has a character that you can really understand. There's some spectacular action in the film and Matt Damon gives a solid performance. Elysium isn't perfect, but it's an old-school, very entertaining thrill ride that has some smart, if obvious social commentary thrown in.


13. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES


The Place Beyond the Pines is actually the film that I saw most recently off of this last. I finished Derek Cianfrance's crime epic last night after stopping in the middle at some point last week. After finishing it, I immediately knew that it belonged somewhere on this list. The Place Beyond the Pines is a film of raw emotion and it is such a pleasure to watch. Cianfrance tells three generational stories that flow beautifully. There's the story of Luke Gleason (Ryan Gosling), the story of Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) and the story of their children: Avery's son AJ (Emery Cohen) and Luke's son Jason (Dane Dehaan). Gosling is fantastic and so is Cooper, but the standout for me was DeHaan. He proves to be a spectacular actor in this film and his performance is emotional and outstanding. The Place Beyond The Pines is unique cinema that is incredibly grounded in real life. I thought that is truly fantastic.

12. PHILOMENA


Philomena is another film that is incredibly emotional. It is anchored by two incredible performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and a script that provides an involving story that goes straight for the heart. Philomena is the story of the title character and she leads this film. She's the good, wholesome center of the film and she is why you care so much about the characters. The contrast between Philomena and Martin, the journalist, is very interesting and also entertaining. I found Philomena to be a powerful film and also one that most audiences will love. Philomena's also a film that takes unexpected turns at every corner and that made it even better. It's one of those films that everyone can enjoy and love.


11. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS


Captain Phillips is the most thrilling movie of the year by a mile. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. It almost becomes too intense at one point, but Captain Phillips is still an good thrill for most of its runtime, not a bad one. Captain Phillips is another fantastic piece of filmmaking from director Paul Greengrass, who has built a career on intense, realistic thrillers. Captain Phillips is a non-stop thrill ride from the word go and even though there is a lag in the middle section, the film is still blisteringly intense. Captain Phillips also features a spectacular performance from Tom Hanks and a solid supporting turn from Barkhad Abdi. Captain Phillips is at its best during the final five minutes of the film. Those five minutes are spectacular and that scene is one of the year's best. If you haven't seen the film, you're in for a crazy, intense treat.


10. FAST AND FURIOUS 6


Fast and Furious 6 was the most memorable experience I had at a movie theater this past summer. I enjoyed every single minute of Fast and Furious 6 and walked out ecstatic. It truly felt like summer had arrived. Fast and Furious 6 is the best piece of pure action cinema to be released in 2013. It establishes that the Fast and Furious franchise is the one to beat for exceptionally entertaining action films. The sixth installment has so many memorable action scenes and car crashes that you can't keep up with it. And although people give the runway scene a hard time, it's still one of the best action sequences ever put on film. Sadly, the Fast and Furious family lost Paul Walker this past year, which puts the film franchise in jeopardy. However, that doesn't change my opinion of Fast 6, which is a superb action film.


9. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS


Star Trek Into Darkness was not a film that I initially thought highly of. I gave it a "B" when it came out in May, saying in my review that the film was "very entertaining", but that "it doesn't live up to its predecessor." After viewing the film about four or five more times on Blu-Ray, I can assure you that I was wrong. Star Trek Into Darkness is a spectacular piece of sci-fi cinema that works on many levels. The characters are very entertaining and the action sequences are great. It's the glossy sci-fi companion to Fast 6 for summer action awesomeness. JJ Abrams directed another great film with Star Trek Into Darkness.


8. FROZEN


Frozen is Disney's best film in recent years and it solidifies that they're back on top of the animated world. Frozen is an old-fashioned Disney musical and it is utterly magical. The music, the story and the animation is perfect and I loved every minute of this film. Frozen is a great animated film and it also has some great messages thrown in there for good measure. In a year where animated films were mostly disappointments, Frozen stands above all of them.


7. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS


Inside Llewyn Davis is another film that I watched very recently. Yet even in these last few days, Inside Llewyn Davis has stuck with me in a way that many films don't. There's something melancholy and haunting about the film. All of the potential that the main character has is wasted and it's tragic. Inside Llewyn Davis also has spectacular performances, great scenes and a fantastic soundtrack. This movie had me glued to the screen from beginning to end. That's not something that happens very often. Inside Llewyn Davis also ends perfectly in an odd sort of way. All of these things add up to one heck of a film. Inside Llewyn Davis is a uniquely fantastic film that I can't wait to enjoy over and over.


6. PRISONERS


Prisoners is a film that I expected to like a lot, but it's not a film that I expected to love like I did. Prisoners is an exceptional old-school noir with a bit of a moral twist. The performances, the cinematography, the story: everything in this movie is pitch-perfect. The film is 153 minutes long, but you don't feel the runtime at all. I was utterly gripped by the film and the mystery had me glued to the small screen I was watching the film on. Jake Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar nomination for this one and Hugh Jackman is great too. This is the closest that we got to a Christopher Nolan film this year with a twisty, complex plot and a slightly ambiguous ending. All in all, I loved Prisoners and it is absolutely one of the best films of the year.


5. 12 YEARS A SLAVE


12 Years A Slave has some of the best filmmaking of the year and it is simply gripping from beginning to end. The film is hard to watch, but I never thought that it was too brutal. 12 Years A Slave provides a realistic, harrowing view of slavery that is anchored by the single best performance of the year from Chiwetel Ejiofor. His performance needs to win the Oscar and he absolutely makes the film better. Also, director Steve McQueen adds wonders to the film with his directorial eye. I loved this film and it has stuck with me since the day that I saw it. Simply one of the best pictures of the year.


4. GRAVITY


Gravity is not only one of the greatest technical achievements of the year. It is also one of the most breathtakingly cool pieces of filmmaking. Gravity starts with a noise that grows and grows until it crescendos with one of the coolest moments of the year. That's one of the defining moments of Gravity, a film that is absolutely amazing from start to finish. Gravity has so many different elements to it, but the most important element is the theme of rebirth. Gravity features the best female performance of the year from Sandra Bullock and spectacular special effects. Cuaron's direction is masterful and makes the film what it is. The ending of Gravity is also perfect. Pretty much everything in Gravity is perfect.


3. AMERICAN HUSTLE


American Hustle is a bit of a mess at times, but it is absolutely amazing as well. I was so excited for this film and it did not disappoint. The story is amazing, the soundtrack is fantastic, but the performances and atmosphere are what sets American Hustle apart from the rest. Christian Bale is spectacular and Amy Adams is the heart and soul of the film. Jeremy Renner turns in a solid supporting turn, while Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are Oscar-worthy in supporting roles. The 1970's setting and soundtrack make this film flow from beginning to end. Director David O. Russell directs the film fast and furiously and his screenplay is witty and crazy. This is an absolutely fantastic film with great performances and a crazy screenplay. American Hustle is pure cinema. A stunning film.


2. THE WORLD'S END


The World's End is one of the funniest movies that I have ever seen. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and friends have created a nostalgic, hilarious sci-fi journey that is spectacular from start to finish. Director Edgar Wright injects the film with so much wit, humor and energy that you can't help but love the film. The set up of this film is spectacular and the rest of the film is just as good. The World's End also benefits from a great performance from Pegg and good performances from the rest of the film. I've watched this film several times since my first viewing, and every time it seems to get better. The World's End really is one of the greatest achievements in recent comedy history. A true masterpiece.


1. RUSH


I've debated about my #1 choice. The World's End and American Hustle are films that I love, but neither one can quite match my #1. Rush is an absolutely breathtaking film. The first scene is exhilarating and the rest of the film keeps up that momentum. Rush is made up of pure adrenaline and is not the best action film of the year, but it's also a spectacular character study. Rush features a great performance from Daniel Bruhl and a great star turn by Chris Hemsworth. Everything in Rush is incredibly entertaining and fascinating and it's an absolute pleasure to watch. Director Ron Howard created a thrilling, crazy movie that is a joy to watch and the racing world has never been this cool and thrilling on screen. I just can't wait to see this film again and again on Blu-Ray. Rush is simply the best film of the year.


This was one of the best years for film in a long time. Here's my message to 2014: do your best. It'll be hard to top this year, which had so many spectacular films. I also have a message to 2013. To quote Inside Llewyn Davis: "Au Revoir."