Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eimer's 2013 Academy Awards Picks

So, last Thursday, the Academy announced their lineup for the 85th Academy Awards. 

Not a lot of surprises here with the exception of Best Director snubs for Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck as well as SupportingActress nominations (see below). 

Everything else, in my opinion, was, pretty expected – which sort of sucks. But what are you going to do?

In any event, below are my picks for each category:

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Daniel Day-Lewis in “LINCOLN”

Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”

Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”

Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Eimer note: A couple years ago when it was announced that Day-Lewis was going to portray Lincoln, I posted the article and a small blurb: ‘And the Oscar for best actor in a leading role goes to…’ I’m still convinced.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Alan Arkin in “Argo”

Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”

Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”
Eimer note: This one was a tough choice. All five actors have previously won Academy Awards. Waltz just picked up a supporting actor Golden Globe for Django. However, I’m going with Hoffman for The Master. It just feels like the right decision.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Eimer note: I’m going to take Riva over Lawrence, Chastain and Watts. Just a gut feeling. I haven’t seen Amour yet, but everything seems to be pointing to her performance as key. Probably regret this when one of the other actresses are announced. But who cares?

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Eimer note: It’s Hathaway’s to lose. Haven’t seen the movie yet. But I hear she’s the cat’s meow!  (Dark Knight Rises pun intended)

Best animated feature film of the year
“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
Eimer Note: I’ve been hearing good things about Wreck-It-Ralph and ParaNorman. Didn’t think too much about The Pirates. And, even though, BRAVE won a Golden Globe, I’m going to stick with my write-up a couple weeks ago and go with Tim Burton and his refreshingly dark Frankenweenie.

Achievement in cinematography
“Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski

“Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Eimer Note: Although Deakins has been nominated 10 times (Fargo, Jesse James, O’ Brother) – and has not yet won (yet), I was going to go with Lincoln. It had to be hell to create that ‘natural light’ look throughout the film - especially the night scenes. Reminds me of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon which won Barry Alcott the big award back in 1976. Janusz has photographed most of Speilberg’s works including Saving Private Ryan, Shindler’s List and War of the Worlds. However, after seeing Life of Pi, I'm convinced Claudio Miranda is going to win. Just fantastic work.

Achievement in costume design
“Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood
Eimer note: Seems like Les Miserables will win here. Dunno. Any of the other four may sneak in, but I think everyone love’s Les Mis and will want to reward it anyway possible.

Achievement in directing
“Amour” Michael Haneke

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee

“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Eimer note: very odd that Bigelow, Tarantino and Affleck aren’t in this category especially since Affleck has since won a Golden Globe Directing and Best Picture award including the Director's Guild Award, which, pretty much would have been a landslide. That said, I’ll have to go with Speilberg in this one. And, let’s face it, he did a good job. Lincoln is an actor’s movie as is Beasts, Amour and Silver Linings. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Haneke also won this award as well. But, think about it: Speilberg made a three-hour movie about a bunch of people talking engrossing, interesting and utterly fantastic.

Best documentary feature

“5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

“The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined

“How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined

“The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined

“Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined
Eimer note: I haven’t seen any of these movies (yet) although I’ve been hearing great things about The Invisible War as well as 5 Broken Cameras. But, for whatever reason, Plague is just resonating with me.

Best documentary short subject
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine

“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Eimer note: I’m going with Open Heart because it has to do with a young kid growing who needs open heart surgery in Rwanda and Sudan but is facing obstacles along the way. Viewed all of the trailers and this one looks the most profound.

Achievement in film editing

“Argo” William Goldenberg

“Life of Pi” Tim Squyres

“Lincoln” Michael Kahn

“Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Eimer note: Going with Zero Dark Thirty on this one. Could also make an argument for Life of Pi considering all of the green screen and water scenes. Movies with great battle scenes usually win this award (e.g. The Hurt Locker, LOTR: Return of the King, Black Hawk Down, Schindler’s List, Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, Raider of the Lost Ark, you get the drift).

Best foreign language film of the year

“Amour” Austria

“Kon-Tiki” Norway

“No” Chile

“A Royal Affair” Denmark

“War Witch” Canada
Eimer note: Going with Amour on this. Don’t really care about the other films in this category.

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Eimer note: I’m going with The Hobbit on this one. It just seems like a no brainer to me. Middle Earth compared to real life? C’mon!

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli

“Argo” Alexandre Desplat

“Life of Pi” Mychael Danna

“Lincoln” John Williams

“Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Eimer note: Adele, congratulations. Although would be nice to see Seth McFarlane pick up an award for his comedy TED.

Achievement in production design

“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Eimer note: It’s a two-way tie between The Hobbit and Les Mis. I’m going with Les Mis because it seems all of the musicals win this category (i.e. Moulin Rouge, Chicago) but let’s not forget the fantasy either (LOTR, Pan’s Labyrinth, Benjamin Button, Avatar). Les Mis seems more flashy and fanciful. Whereas LOTR already won. That’s the best I can come up with.

Best animated short film
“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”" David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs
Eimer note: I watched these shorts in succession (i.e. Adam and Dog first) and each one was very interesting and creative. However, I’m going with Paperman. The flawless combination of 2d and 3d animation is spectacular. Also you can visit some additional insight here.

Best live action short film

“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen

“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele

“Henry” Yan England
Eimer note: After viewing all of the trailers (sorry the movies are unavailable online), I’m going to go with Death of a Shadow. It’s got great editing, a sci-fi slant with a head nod to Terry Gilliam’s classics. This movie looks so polished, that Avermaet should be getting a full-length movie contract very quickly after the Oscars.

Achievement in sound editing

“Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn

“Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman

“Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton

“Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers

“Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
 Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kuni
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White

“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick

Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill

“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Eimer note: Go ahead, I dare you to make a CG Lion, put it on a CG boat in a CG ocean background and try not to make it look fake.

Adapted screenplay

“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee

“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner

“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
Eimer note: All should be commended (especially Life of Pi considering it was an unfilmable book), but I’ll give this one to David O. Russell who has been writing great movies for years dating all the way back to ‘Spanking the Monkey’.

Original screenplay

“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke

“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino

“Flight” Written by John Gatins

“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal
Eimer note: Despite (or in defiance of) the 99 references of the n-word in the movie, I’m still going with Quentin on this one…for the simple fact of Freedom of Speech and I loved the dialogue.

Best motion picture of the year

“Amour” Nominees to be determined

“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers

“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers

“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers

“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers

“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
Eimer note: I was going to go with Lincoln here, but with all of the hubbub over Argo, I'm going to have to switch my vote to ARGO. My next pick would be Lincoln followed by Zero Dark Thirty. Would love to see Django Unchained, but it won’t happen.

Well, there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to post your thoughts below or on Facebook.


See how I fared in years past:

Friday, January 4, 2013

Eimer's Top 10 Reads of 2012

Well, this was an interesting year of reading for me.

Very cool stuff that seeped through the woodwork and into my brain forever. Truth be told, this was probably one of the best years of reading for me in terms of content. 

From vampires and zombies to Charles Dickens and Jeffrey Dahmer – this was a great year. All of these books are highly recommended and you can easily pick them up at your local library (minus Wool) or at for a rather cheap price.

That said, please enjoy my Top Ten Books of 2012:

A very creative science fiction 'collection' of post-apocalyptic stories by Hugh Howey. Take the word 'collection' with a grain of salt, because - put together - the six stories complete a dream novel come true for this up-and-coming writer who gained a cult following on Kudos to Howey for taking the science-fiction genre in a new, interesting direction. Without giving too much away, he's created a thriller, a murder mystery, a horror story all merged with fantastic dialogue and character development. Highly recommended. This collection, yet again, gives all budding novelists hope that there are other avenues to achieve success then simply receiving a pile of 'rejected' letters from well-known publishers. And, quite frankly, if your work is good enough, self-publishing just may be the way to go. Looking forward to reading more of Hugh Howey's work.

Stephen King rated Simmons' The Terror one of his favorite books of the year back in 2008. I picked it up and, after a couple months, finished it and was flattened by the extensive story line, great characters and fantastic dialogue. Fast-forward to 2012. I heard about this funny book called Drood. Well, again, after a couple months, I've finished what I believe has been the best book that I've read in a handful of years. Fantastic book. Fantastic writing. Great eerie storyline. And Simmons, the bastard. This guy had to have sold his soul to the devil. To be able to write this well, keep the storyline arcs intact, add to that such inter-weaving storylines as well keeping the exact dates and times of the original Charles Dicken's life while spinning an original boogie-man story. And to have the narration of from the narcissistic Wilkie Collins instead of Dickens is pure creative genius (a word I do not toss around very easily when referencing any medium be it film, illustration, literature and painting). The fact that this book kept me enthralled through its 750+ pages is inconceivable. But it did. And it's a damn fine book. It makes me want to revisit and read for the first time some of Dicken's works including THE BLEAK HOUSE and OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. And let's not forget about the title character the book is all about...DROOD. An interesting creation. A great idea for a book. And an overall genius novel that isn't getting nearly enough press. Bravo, Simmons. Bravo. I thought no writer could top THE TERROR. And, lo and behold, you've topped yourself.

What a cool book that harks back to the days of film-noir and 'interesting' detective stories. With dabs of SIN CITY mixed in with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE DA VINCI CODE and a little EYES WIDE SHUT, Brian Evenson creates a stunning, shocking, bloody read that's packed with twists and turns a plenty not to mention a little ambiguousness to keep you on your toes. The plot follows the lead character, Kline, an undercover cop who lost his hand to a crazed maniac, as he slowly gets entangled into a cult of people who cut off their arms to get closer to God. It's weird in all the good ways. And the dialogue, the dialogue is fantastic. Worth picking the book up alone. Very reminiscent of the old detective movies and, as a friend reminded me, Quentin Tarantino. I can't seeing this being made into a movie due to the violence and bloodshed. So, check it out in print form because it's a very fantastic read. Come to think of it, this is more of a horror novel than a detective book. Not for the squeamish. Check er out!

Fantastic book about a group of guys in Bath, Ohio, who happened to be buddies with Jeffrey Dahmer. Illustrated and written by Derf, this is a very cool, interesting fly on the wall story about Dahmer's teenage life as well as his first murder, which occurred in Bath. Being a (former) Bath, Ohio, resident and living about 1/4 mile away from the former Dahmer residence, it's interesting to see Derf mention and draw and refer to some of the popular landmarks including the school, the restaurants, the mall and the roads and highways of Bath. Like I said, it's a well-written, very well drawn book. Read the footnotes section at the back for even more jaw-dropping information.

Very good book. Right from the first chapter, you're wondering 'Where in the Hell is this going?'. Pollock takes you on a fun, entertaining, dare I say disgusting ride into the filth and underworld of Southeastern Ohio. If you've read KNOCKEMSTIFF, you know exactly what you're in for. The characters, the locales and the interesting situations they're put in come together to create a fantastic story 'Natural Born Killers meets Gummo'. Pollock has a knack for dialogue. He can write for dimwits like no other, but he also has a knack to get inside the mind of each character and converse in a way that makes them 100% believable. Great book. Be warned though, it's a bit squeamish in places. This ain't Highlights For Children. But, it's worth the ride. Check ‘er out. Also, if you don't know about Pollock, check out his inspiring back-story. He gives me hope for my personal publishing future every time I think about him.

Good book. Great read. Again, McCarthy is a delicate master of the English language. He really gets inside the main character's sick and twisted mind. But, is Lester Ballard really a serial killer or is he just a screwed up, perverted, sadistic individual? And, I guess, is there a difference? In any event, a nice quick read. The chapters move along at a fast pace. Like THE ROAD, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, BLOOD MERIDIAN and, of course, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, McCarthy can write great dialogue and he pulls it off fantastically with this little story - especially Lester's remarks and thought process as he relates to the townsfolk.

Great book. Martin is very honest in his representation of his rise to fame. It didn't happen overnight. It took time. In fact, it took lots of time. Maybe half of his life. It also took a lot of failures. In fact, lots and lots of failures. If there's anything to be learned from Martin is that when you get knocked down, you stand back up and continue to strive for your dreams no matter what they may be. Martin offers up an intimate portrait of his childhood, his dreams and his constant internal strife with his father, which - as it appears - fueled his fire for success even more. In addition, this book can be a great self-help book for people who fear presenting in public. Everyone fails in life at some point. The most important thing is what you do after that happens. Martin's story can serve as a motivating lesson to everyone out there about tenacity, creativity, dedication to your craft and never giving up on your dreams. What a great, quick, entertaining and - most importantly - motivating read

Robo-fantastic. Prior to reading this novel, I read a couple reviews from literary snobs who thumbed their nose at this book. My question was 'Why?' This is pure Robot Pulp. And it's freaking awesome. Daniel H. Wilson has done his homework and has intricately played out a potential robot apocalypse on mankind. After reading WORLD WAR Z and then this book (both sort of 'found footage/interview type' books, I can honestly say that Roboapocalypse stands on a higher pedestal. Why? Well, the character development is there, the dialogue is there and the action and thought processes of all characters isn't one-dimensional. A definite page turner a' la works of Koontz, Grisham and James Patterson - Wilson writes action sequences extremely well - and there are plenty. I really don't want to give too much away. However, I would say snag this book up and read it before Steven Spielberg begins production of the film version later this year - for a 2013 release. Highly enjoyable, action packed, thought-provoking and - simply put - ROBOTASTIC! Check er out.

Kudos to Max Brooks for his very, very deep thinking on the eternal question, "What would happen if the entire world were overrun with zombies?" Seriously though, my hat goes off to Brooks for ruminating on the subject for days and days. Very thorough thought process indeed. What would the army do? Where would people go? How would they survive? What happens when it freezes? Does the army get involved? What about zombies that end up in the water? Brooks creative minds answers these thought-provoking questions, and much more, through faux one-on-one sit-down interviews with a number of heros and witnesses to the zombie war. Which brings me to the one fault I have for this book. I thought the narrative, or rather the storytelling process (first-hand accounts) that Brooks thought up to tell his story was a bit weak. I'm not sure if having a regular, straight-forward fiction novel would have done it justice, either. However, having read Justin Cronin's vampire apocalypse fantasy THE PASSAGE as well as Brook's WORLD WAR Z side by side, I can honestly say Cronin's work - a straight-forward fiction novel - rises to the top. That said, I'm looking forward to the film. If they toss half the imagery and ideas that Brooks thinks up in this book, it's sure to be a cool flick.

Wow, what a monster of a book, but well worth the one month of reading in the end. A new, unique take on the Vampire mystique, Cronin's book covers a present day America followed by an apocalyptic America 100 years later. The cast of characters he creates talk, speak and feel lifelike, the decisions they make speaks to the characters themselves and the journey all of these characters travel is also enjoyable and creepy. Keep in mind, this is a graphic book with plenty of bloodshed and murder. Cronin also attacks the action sequences in the book with fervor and passion. He paints a very comprehensive picture of landscapes and scenery. Some beautiful writing thoughout the more than 700 pages made me a bit jealous, which is always a compliment to the author. Comparisons to WATERSHIP DOWN came to mind often as I was reading this book. I'm not sure how much more there is to say besides the creatures and the overall storyline do, in fact, bring some comparisons to films such I AM LEGEND (and the book), THE DESCENT as well as Guillermo Del Toro's BLADE 2. That said, the book stands on its own as a great piece of fiction. I understand there are two more yet-be-released books in the Passage series, which makes sense considering the open-ended finale. Looking forward to the second book of the trilogy, THE TWELVE.

Interested in more great reads from Eimer's past? Check out these posts:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Eimer's Best Movies Viewed in 2012


But what are you going to do? I watch most of my movies on DVD and ON-DEMAND. So, suck it. 

That said, here are the Top 15 favorite films viewed on Cable, DVD, On Demand and at the Theater in 2012 (in no particular order):

LINCOLN (2012)
Definitely one of the year's best. Speilberg transports you back in time to the late 1800's as a fly on the wall to witness the political process during the abolishment of slavery in the United States. Sure, the cinematography, lighting, editing, score, costumes and art direction are top notch, but it's the acting that receives a top honor here. Fantastic, former award-winning actors are ply their trade. Everyone from Day-Lewis and Field all the way to the supporting cast including Haley, Spader and an above-par job. I can't even begin to talk about Day-Lewis's performance. Just mind-blowing what this man can do in front of a camera. When we left the theater I looked at my watch..."That movie flew by," I said. "Didn't feel like two and a half hours at all." To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to sit through this long of a movie on a Tuesday night, but I'm so happy that I bought my ticket. Kudos, Mr. Spielberg, for a job well done. Check 'er out.

Based on past cinematic history, we all know that the third movie of a trilogy usually isn't that good. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this movie at all. I think I was expecting a big turd just like the third Spider-Man or the former Batman series or Godfather Part 3. But, oh my, did I forget who was behind the camera and writing the script - the Nolan Brothers. From the beginning they had me hooked. And it's hard to do that in a movie for me nowadays. I just thought the action, the direction, the acting and the overall storyline was top notch. And the fact that they didn't really over-costume the heroes (sans Batman) made it feel like "You know, this could possibly happen." No corny outfits. No over-the-top battle choreography. Just a cool story with a little ultra-voilence tossed in. Speaking of the violence, this is the most violent of the three (in my opinion). Be careful with the little kiddies. But man, oh man, check this movie out. Fantastic acting, direction. This one has it all, including a crazy Bane voice that I can't get out of my head.

Fantastic animated film harking back to the old vintage horror movies with stop-motion monsters of the 50's, 60's and 70's. I cannot talk enough about the overall art direction and the great storyline and plot. I saw Burton's original 'Frankenweenie' live-action short and I always thought this idea could be extended in a full-length feature film. I didn't, however, even think about animation. What Burton does here is create his vision of growing up without a lot of electronic contraptions and video games. You just watched lots of TV, went outside and experimented in the laboratory that is life. Again, some parents may be put off by the horror aspects, but my five and six year olds loved it to death (oops! excuse the pun). Check er out. Kudos to Tim Burton, who created what probably will be an Academy Award-Winning Animated Film.

Went into this movie expecting a whimsical, beautifully shot and written Wes Anderson movie and did not leave disappointed. I loved the visual tapestry that director Anderson and cinematographer Robert Yeoman have created. Stark, yet beautiful images in this pastelish dull tone. Beautiful. Also, the acting was perfect, even from the younger actors in the crowd. With a supporting cast of superior adult actors, Anderson is able to see his creation come to life. Very fun film that I will probably view a couple more times for sure. For a good night of Anderson youth, rent RUSHMORE followed by this film. It's almost as if, Shwartzman's RUSHMORE character of Max Fisher has been reborn here. Check er out. One of the most entertaining films that I've seen in 2012. Definitely a top ten.

Fantastic 'take' on a tired old genre. It's movies like this that get me excited to head back to the theaters and start plopping down my $10 bucks plus food. Great screenplay by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with over-the-top direction by Goddard. Acting is well done and there are a number of surprise supporting actors as well as twists and turns. What's more to say? It's a fun horror movie with a fresh twist...and buckets of blood.

The thing about Quentin Tarantino's movies is that they are 'events' in the same vein as a Van Halen concert or seeing a stand-up comedian or magician ply his trade on stage - or any other form of 'live' entertainment for that matter. Truth be told, my wife and another couple 'tailgated' at a local bar before going to see Tarantino's event movie, DJANGO UNCHAINED. I don't tailgate for movies often, but Tarantino's films are such the grandiose films that you almost have to. In any event, I was not disappointed with the outcome. Well-written, well-directed and well acted, the film is sure to spark some racial conflict, but kudos to Tarantino to not bow to the PC community, forge ahead with zero inhibition and create a film the way he desires. A tip of the hat to the old Blaxpoitation flicks and independent art-house films of the 70's - with a little bit of Kubrick's old ultraviolence tossed in, the film works on a number of levels. However, more than anything, it's entertaining. And, it probably shouldn't be considering the subject matter. But it is. A lot of hubbub was brought up about the use of the n-word during the movie. It's a derogatory word indeed, but I think it puts the time and place in perspective. Just like this year's LINCOLN, I think it's important that these movies are being made. They serve as a reminder of where we came, who we are today and who we want to be tomorrow. And, quite the opposite of LINCOLN, sometimes the movie ain't pretty to look at. In fact, it's kind of ugly at times due to the content. That said, kudos to Tarantino for having the cojones to write and make this movie during this important time in our American History. And kudos to all of the actors who do a fine job including Christoph Waltz who won an Academy Award for his work in Inglourious Basterds. I should also note, that I saw this film with an audience that was, on average, 50% black and 50% white. And guess what? There was no racial divide. Everybody laughed.  Everyone seethed. Everyone cheered. And everyone jeered. Just human beings having fun at a film. And damn if that ain't cool.

Let me just tell you that Sarah Polley is a writer/director to watch. Her first film AWAY FROM HER, was very well written, directed and acted. Her sophomore effort is even better. You may have thought every movie about infidelity has been made (i.e. UNFAITHFUL, FATAL ATTRACTION, INDECENT PROPOSAL). But Polley and her fantastic cast have taken it in a totally different route. A more subdued, more intimate look, feel and tone. Dialogue is fantastic. The cinematography has a Wes Anderson-type look that, surprisingly, is all its own. The movie keeps you in suspense of what the hell is going to happen in the end. Will she? Won't she? You never know until the camera takes you on a cinematic tour de force in a 360-degree view of the main characters life. And don’t even get me started with the Twirl a Whirl scene played to the sounds of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, which ends just as quickly as it begins. Could it be a hidden innuendo about relationships in general? You be the judge. What a great, smart intelligent film.

MARLEY (2012)
Had a chance to catch this on same-day release on cable TV. Let me tell you, it was worth the extra cash. Great movie. Fantastic documentary. Although I have loved his music since college (who hasn't?), I really didn't know too much about the man, the myth that is Bob Marley. I"m sure even the most diehard fans will learn something interesting from this documentary. He's half-white, loved soccer, died from melanoma, survived an assination attempt, exiled to England and united political parties in Jamiaca. If you enjoy Marley and reggae music, you will love this documentary. Kevin MacDonald has put together something really beautiful celebrating this man's short, but fantastic life.

Great flick. Highly recommended. I thought I saw one of the greatest superhero movies in last year's CAPTAIN AMERICA. Not so. This is the definitive pop-corn superhero film of this generation. This is the one to beat. Sure there were a lot of other great superhero films, but this just feels right. Everything from the casting, the script, the special effects and overall length and tone of the film. Joss Whedon is a fanboy at heart and knows exactly what the superhero geeks want to see. Fantastic film. Sure to win every technical Academy Award out there.

50/50 (2011)
Man, this was a very good movie. Relied on acting at every turn. Funny, at times. Other times, extremely sad. Jonathan Levine directs an all-star cast to great performances. From Gordon-Levitt to Howard to Anna Kenrick, Rogan and a fantastic Anjelica Huston - everyone brings their A-game to this heartfelt touching film. Plus, the screenplay is top-notch. Great dialogue. Doesn't feel like it's forced. Very conversational. And, like I said, the actors bring it to life. Not much more to say besides this is my personal sleeper-hit, thus far, for this year.

Wow. First off, let me say that this is not a very happy movie. In fact it's a bit of a downer. But, the overall content shouldn't dissuade you into seeing it. In fact, it's a very beautiful, very mystical, very well-acted and directed film (by first-time director Benh Zeitlen). So much so that you're completely and utterly enthralled in the very odd land of Bathtub, Louisiana off the coast of New Orleans. Reminds me a bit of Gilliam's earlier efforts. Cinematographer and script should get nods for originality. This is such a creative film, and made on such a modest budget ($1.8 million), that I would be remiss not to include this on my Top Ten list. Because, quite frankly, I want more of these type of movies to be made. Again, I mentioned acting, but you have to watch this film to see the talents of Quvenzhané Wallis, who plays the main character of 5-year old Hushpuppy. Props to Zeitlen as well for bringing out the best in everyone in this film.

Take yourself back 64 years and contemplate when this film was made. Post World War 2. Israel declared an independent state. Harry Truman is the President of the United States. Italy became a Republic (1946), signed a Peace Treaty with the Allies (1947), a member of NATO (1949) and an ally of the United States. It's interesting to take into consideration what was going on in the world during 1948 to see why a movie such as this film is so respected. And this movie is a small, simple film by today's standards, the film still pulls you in. And speaks volumes. Everything from the acting to the simple script to the direction and cinematography - very intereseting movie about the struggle of humanity. The genuineness of the film was probably a shock to many movie goers at the time who wanted song and dance, or comedy to entertain them at the theaters - not to be depressed by the cruel realities of life. In the game of life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, which you get a little taste in this film. Such a beautiful classic. I'm kicking myself for not watching this movie sooner. Kudos to Vittorio De Sica for having the backbone for bucking the odds and creating such an inventive film.

SHAME (2011)
Wow! In the same vain as WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. A very beautiful, well-directed, well-acted movie about addiction and sadistic thoughts that is, at times, a little unsettling and depressing to watch. Great character study on Brandon Sullivan, a man who likes his porn and sex maybe a little too much. With an insatiable sexual appetite we get a peepshow into his semi-tortured life. Yeah, he's having a lot of sex, but is he really enjoying it? And what the hell is up with the family? A fantastic ambiguous ending leaves the film hanging in uncertainty. I loved this movie from start to tragic finish. Again, this isn't some crazy comedy that will have you giggling. This is a tragic film all around, but a film that needs to be viewed for the beauty and splendor and tragedy that it is. Fantastic film-making. Check er out. Also, I should note great sophomore outing by Steve McQueen (Hunger) and great supporting acting by up and coming actress Carey Mulligan, who looks eerily similar to acress Michelle Williams in this movie. Speaking of We Need to Talk about Kevin...

Wow, what a strong compelling film. Sad, very sad. Not your average entertaining fun, bubble gum movie that's for sure, but it's a powerful melancholy viewing nonetheless. As I was watching this film, of course memories of Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings came to mind. However, this movie follows the mom, who was impacted the most from this tragic believable horror film. Kudos to Co-Writer/Director Lynne Ramsey, beautiful, poignant cinematography by Seamus McGarvey and Editor Joe Bini, not to mention the fantastic soundtrack, which all comes together to tell this tragic tale. And I can't speak enough of the acting, Tilda Swinton was phenomenal, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller are jaw-dropping as the young and teeenage Kevin and the rest of the supporting cast including John C. Reilly. The difference between a good movie and great movie is the great movie makes you think about it one day, two weeks, three years down the line. This is a great movie. It's not the funniest of the most light-hearted of films, but it's a damn fine film.

THE GREY (2012)
Solid action, direction, plot and screenplay. Great acting choices as well. My only little piece of criticism came from the Wolves themselves. In some instances thye looked a bit fake, especially the close-up shots (probably because they were). However, the film still rocked and works on all cylinders from start to finish. Edge-of-your-seat action and great character development. Nice ambiguous ending. Great direction by Joe Carnahan. What a fantastic piece of film-making. Reminded me of the short story TO BUILD A FIRE by Jack London.

Clever, fresh, interesting take on the 'college students in the woods' horror story. Mostly comedy, hardly horror, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil was just a fun movie that had much, much more laughs than most comedies I've seen lately (Hangover Part 2, I'm looking at you). Great acting, smart script not to mention nice direction by actor/writer Eli Craig bring this movie together for a fun experience.

  • Your Sister’s Sister
  • John Dies at the End
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  •  Prometheus
  • The Artist
  •   21 Jump Street
  • Sound of Noise
  • The Pixar Story
  • Wanderlust
  •  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  • Young Adult
  • Take Shelter
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • The Help
  • Drive
  • I Saw the Devil
  • The Ides of March
  • Moneyball
  • Margin Call
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes

What about you? Any favorites you'd like to share that aren't on this list? I'm always searching for great movies. Why not help me out? Thanks.