Posts Tagged 'john williams'

The 2016 Biggie Awards (and My Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2015)

The 27th Annual Biggie Awards

for achievements in film for the year 2015

2015. Goddamn. “Weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In my view, this was the weakest year overall for movies since 2009, where I only “loved” 14 movies. In 2015, as of this writing, I added 17 films to my Love List. For perspective, since I’ve started tracking these things in 1997, this is only the third year where I didn’t love at least 20 movies. I didn’t love anything in 2015 until early May when Avengers: Age of Ultron opened, and even that was a disappointment compared to its predecessor.

This was not a year like 2000 (Gladiator), 2003 (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) or 2012 (Lincoln) where a single film dominated the year while also facing stiff competition (Gladiator fended off The Patriot, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon AND Traffic, ROTK is the most awarded film in Biggies history, but still had to face Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World AND The Last Samurai– which would have been the Best Picture winner in most other years, while Lincoln had to battle Zero Dark Thirty). The closest comp I can come up with is 2011, when Drive snuck in out of nowhere to take Best Picture in a wide open field. Drive would’ve been crushed had it come out the same year as There Will Be Blood or Titanic, but it happened to arrive in a mediocre year and was able to edge out the victory. Fast forward to now, and I don’t even know if there was a 2015 film as good as Drive. As a result, this is probably the most winnable year in Biggies history for “great but not masterful” movies, which is simultaneously really fun and disappointing by default. As I post this, I honestly haven’t decided what I think the best movie of 2015 was.

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Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS

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Vader helmet

Welcome back, friends. Please forgive my lack of productivity in this space through pretty much all of 2015, but I’ve had quite a bit going on out in the real world. On top of that, I’m much more interested in creating my own work than I am reacting to the work of others, which is what I do most of the time on this blog. That’s a result of simply wanting to get things off my chest, and over the past year I’ve become pretty good about being able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts contained inside my head. This is my first full review since I analyzed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April of 2014. Fuck, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

Reviewing Star Wars movies has always been tough for me. And by “tough”, I mean “nearly impossible”. The original trilogy, collectively, occupies the #1 slot on my list of favorite movies of all time. When I watch those movies, I don’t see actors and cinematography and writing, I am watching a story unfold, nothing more. I’m not thinking at all about how it was made. That’s because I became passionate about Star Wars before I knew I was passionate about filmmaking. When it comes to the prequels, I don’t like talking about them because of how disappointing they are. I’ve never gone as far as most in saying they outright suck, but I freely admit they are a mess. I can still watch them and enjoy doing so, but they don’t feel like the original movies at all, and I’d have a very tough time watching all 6 in order, because the gap in style, both visually and in storytelling, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope would be too big a jump to make in my mind. I’m also bitter that the way Anakin Skywalker was handled in the prequels makes original trilogy Darth Vader much less badass, which is a cinematic felony.

On to current events! Back when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and sent George Lucas packing, I posted my reaction to the news [HERE] and then did another piece reacting to the announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director [HERE]. I originally pegged Abrams’ selection at only a 2% chance of happening. In hindsight, that was foolish, but I based that doubt on the fact that I refused to believe that they’d hire the same guy who rebooted Star Trek to also revive Star Wars. I viewed that as some sort of celestial paradox. Minus the Star Trek factor, I approved of Abrams doing this, and I still approve now after we’ve all seen the finished product. Episode VII needed to be directed by a Star Wars fan, and Abrams has proven his worthiness in that regard. In many people’s views, his love for the original films is too evident in Force Awakens, but we’ll get to that.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it. Needless to say, SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!

Continue reading ‘Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS’

Review: 86th ACADEMY AWARDS

Oscars poster 2014
I have to say I really enjoyed the 86th Academy Awards. Moreso than most years. I think the primary reason is because there wasn’t a single result that I absolutely hated. Of course there were things I disagreed with, but there wasn’t anything this year that made me want to go on a killing spree, which is rare. The show was very light-hearted and had a really positive vibe. It seemed like it would have been really fun to have been there. That’s not always the case. People seemed genuinely happy for every winner and nominee, and there were very few instances where it seemed like most of the crowd didn’t give a shit about what was happening on stage.

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Review: IRON MAN 3

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Iron Man 3 marks the beginning of Marvel’s “Phase Two” series of films in the buildup towards The Avengers 2 in 2015. Between now and then, we get Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World (11/8/13), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14), and the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie (8/1/14). However, Iron Man 3 is very much a movie about Tony Stark, which I think is appropriate. It does not exist merely to help setup The Avengers 2. There are no big Avenger cameos during the film, no appearance by Sam Jackson or really any mention of S.H.I.E.L.D. The story deals a lot with Tony’s personal struggles after the events of The Avengers, but that’s really the only Avengers connection we get. One of the complaints a lot of critics had about Iron Man 2 was that the S.H.I.E.L.D./Avengers stuff was too central to the story. I sort of agreed with that. This one is a much more personal, character-driven film than the other Iron Man movies, and I found that refreshing. There are really only 3 major action set pieces, which may leave some ADHD viewers scratching their heads, saying, “DERP!?”

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Jurassic Park & Me: 20 Years Later

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Chills.

My first viewing of Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park, on June 11, 1993, at the age of 13, at a sold out show in the biggest and best movie theater in my hometown, was one of the 5 most significant events of my life. At least half of the people I know today would not have met me were it not for that night. Continue reading ‘Jurassic Park & Me: 20 Years Later’

The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)

The 24th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I had unfair expectations for 2012. Given the impressive roster of movies on tap, I predicted as early as April of 2011 that 2012 would be the best year in movies since 2000, which I consider to be the best year for movies in my lifetime. In the end, it wasn’t quite the year I wanted it to be, but it was still quite a year. Actually, by my official tally of new entries on my “Movies I Love” list, this was the best year for movies since 2007. I “loved” 24 movies in 2012 (for comparison, 2000 holds the record with 31). What I liked most about 2012 was that it had a lot of variety, as I think you’ll see reflected here in my nominees.

We’ll get into most of the specific films in the descriptions under each category, but there are a few things I want to mention up front.

Continue reading ‘The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)’

Review: LINCOLN

I typically don’t do a full review for a movie unless there were several things I liked and didn’t like. I like to share the good and the bad. Lincoln, however, is not such an instance. I have zero major complaints about the film. It’s actually one of the few 2012 films that actually fully lived up to expectations. As of this writing, I believe it is the best movie of 2012. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way when it’s all said and done, but as of right now, Steven Spielberg is on top of the hill yet again. It’s his best movie since Munich in 2005, and since he’s been my favorite director for almost 20 years now, I’m ecstatic to see he’s still capable of this, because it’s been awhile since he’s blown me away.

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