Posts Tagged ‘movies’



With nominations announced this morning, its time to see how my predictions fared. This year’s nominees are amazing diverse, and fantastic reminders that Hollywood is still a hotbed of creativity and art.

I’m copy/pasting my prediction lists (in condensed form). Incorrect predictions will be crossed out, and replaced by the correct ones, which have a number in parenthesis indicated where I ranked them on my original prediction list (out of 10). Correct predictions are in bold.

Best Picture

1) La La Land

2) Moonlight   

3) Manchester by the Sea

4) Arrival

5) Hell or High Water

6) Hacksaw Ridge   

7) Hidden Figures   

8) Lion 

9) Fences

A perfect nine for nine! My super-secret algorithm comes through again!

*Note: Anywhere from 5-10 films can be nominated for Best Picture. I always pick the maximum because there’s no way of determining how many films will be picked. My 10th pick, 20th Century Women, was not nominated, meaning my top 9 picks were.


Best Director

1)  Damien Chazelle – La La Land

2) Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

3) Martin Scorsese – Silence     Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge   (#7)

4) Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

5) Denis Villeneuve – Arrival


Best Actor

1) Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea

2) Denzel Washington – Fences

3) Ryan Gosling La La Land

4) Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge

5) Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic


Best Actress

1) Emma Stone La La Land

2) Natalie Portman – Jackie

3) Isabelle Huppert – Elle 

4) Amy Adams – Arrival     Ruth Negga – Loving   (#6)  

5) Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins


Best Supporting Actor

1) Mahershala Ali – Moonlight

2) Dev Patel – Lion

3) Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

4) Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea

5) Liam Neeson –  Silence     Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals   (#6)


Best Supporting Actress

1) Viola Davis – Fences

2) Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

3) Naomie Harris – Moonlight

4) Nicole Kidman – Lion

5) Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women     Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures   (#6)


Best Foreign Language Film

1) Toni Erdmann

2) Land of Mine

3) A Man Called Ove

4) My Life as a Zucchini     The Salesman   (#6)

5) Tanna


Best Animated Film

1) Zootopia

2) Kubo and the Two Strings 

3) My Life as a Zucchini

4) The Red Turtle

5) Moana


Best Documentary Film

1) O.J.: Made in America

2) 13th

3) Cameraperson     Life, Animated   (#7)

4) I Am Not Your Negro

5) Weiner     Fire at Sea   (#10)


Best Adapted Screenplay

1) Moonlight  

2) Fences 

3) Arrival

4) Silence     Lion   (#6)

5) Nocturnal Animals     Hidden Figures   (#9)


Best Original Screenplay

1) Manchester by the Sea

2) La La Land

3) Hell or High Water

4) Jackie     The Lobster   (#6)

5) The Edge of Seventeen     20th Century Women   (#8)


Best Film Editing

1) Moonlight  

2) La La Land

3) Hacksaw Ridge

4) Jackie     Hell or High Water   (#9)

5) Arrival


Best Cinematography

1) Moonlight

2) La La Land

3) Arrival

4) Jackie     Lion   (Not ranked)

5) Silence


Best Production Design

1) La La Land

2) Jackie     Hail, Caesar!   (Not ranked)

3) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

4) Arrival

5) Silence     Passengers   (Not ranked)


Best Costume Design

1) Jackie

2) La La Land

3) Florence Foster Jenkins

4) Love & Friendship     Allied   (#6)

5) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them


Best Make-up and Hairstyling

1) Florence Foster Jenkins     Suicide Squad   (#4)

2) Star Trek Beyond

3) A Man Called Ove


Best Original Score

1) La La Land

2) Jackie

3) Moonlight 

4) Lion 

5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story     Passengers   (Not ranked)


Best Original Song

1) “City of Stars” La La Land

2) “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

3) “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – Trolls

4) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” La La Land

5) “Heathens” – Suicide Squad     “The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story   (Not ranked)


Best Sound Mixing

1) La La Land

2) Hacksaw Ridge

3) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4) Doctor Strange     13 Hours   (Not ranked)

5) Arrival


Best Sound Editing

1) Hacksaw Ridge

2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story     Arrival   (#6)

3) La La Land

4) The Jungle Book     Deepwater Horizon   (#7)

5) Doctor Strange     Sully   (#8)


Best Visual Effects

1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

2) The Jungle Book

3) Doctor Strange

4) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them     Deepwater Horizon   (#6)

5) Kubo and the Two Strings 


Best Short Film

1) Graffiti     Ennemis Intérieurs   (#7)

2) Timecode

3) Bon Voyage     La Femme et le TGV   (#8)

4) The Way of Tea     Silent Nights   (#10)

5) Mindenki (Sing)


Best Animated Short Film

1) Piper

2) Pearl

3) Inner Workings     Pear Cider and Cigarettes   (#6)

4) Borrowed Time

5) Blind Vaysha


Best Documentary Short Film

1) The White Helmets

2) Extremis

3) Joe’s Violin

4) The Mute’s House     Watani: My Homeland   (#8)

5) 4.1 Miles



To conclude coverage of 2015’s film slate, here are my predictions for Oscar nominations.

Oscar nominations are not announced until the 14th. However, with the Golden Globes this weekend, I’m releasing my predictions now. This is because, in years past, folks at sites like IMDB, Gold Derby, and the now-defunct Rope of Silicon always found themselves changing their picks drastically after the Golden Globes. This happens for two different reasons. The first is that they are eager to jump on bandwagons created by Golden Globe wins, which actually aren’t always that great of a predictor. The second is that they have to stop themselves from looking silly by distancing themselves from stupid picks they previously made which had very little chance of actually being correct.

This isn’t to say that it is somehow not kosher to change picks. Everyone’s free to do so. If I do, they will be noted here. The important part is transparency, to see how accurate things are as time goes by.

Here we go! Bold picks are ones I consider to be locks.

EDIT: The Oscar Nominations have been announced. I picked 75% correctly. Below, you’ll see that my correct predictions are in bold, and my incorrect picks have been crossed out, and replaced by the actual nominees. 

Best Picture 


  1. Spotlight
  2. Room
  3. Brooklyn
  4. Carol
  5. The Revenant
  6. The Martian
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road
  8. The Big Short
  9. Bridge of Spies
  10. Sicario

As I said below, this category can have from 5-10 nominees. Carol and Sicario were not nominated, but all other films were accurately picked.

These past few years, the nomination race has been very fun to watch. This year, there are three films that intrigue me. The first is Mad Max. Usually action films like this get passed over by the Academy. But with nominations by the Golden Globes and Critics Choice circles, I can’t count it out. Not only that, its looking pretty good for a nomination.

Beasts of No Nation is so hard to get a read on thanks to its Netflix-only release. Its as good as the last few films on here, but I think it doesn’t quite make it.

Finally, there’s Creed. I think it can sneak in, but I’m wondering if nostalgia is kicking this one up the ladder a bit. On the bubble perhaps.

Also, remember there doesn’t have to be 10 nominations, so we could see some fall by the wayside.

Best Director


  1. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
  2. Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)
  3. Ridley Scott (The Martian) Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
  4. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  5. Todd Haynes (Carol) Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Best Actor


  1. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  2. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
  3. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  5. Johnny Depp (Black Mass) Matt Damon (The Martian)

On the bubble: Matt Damon (The Martian)

Best Actress


  1. Brie Larson (Room)
  2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
  3. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
  4. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
  5. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

On the bubble: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Best Supporting Actor


  1. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  2. Paul Dano (Love and Mercy) Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  3. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
  4. Michael Shannon (99 Homes) Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
  5. Idris Elba (Beasts of No NationMark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

On the bubble: Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Best Supporting Actress


  1. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
  2. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful 8)
  3. Rooney Mara (Carol)
  4. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
  5. Helen Mirren (Trumbo) Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

On the bubble: Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Spotlight
  2. Bridge of Spies
  3. Inside Out
  4. Sicario  Straight Outta Compton
  5. The Hateful 8 Ex Machina

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Martian
  2. The Big Short
  3. Room
  4. Steve Jobs Carol
  5. Brooklyn

On the bubble: Carol

Best Animated Feature Film

  1. Inside Out
  2. Anomalisa
  3. The Peanuts Movie Boy and the World
  4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  5. The Good Dinosaur When Marnie Was There

On the bubble: Home

Best Documentary Film

  1. Amy
  2. The Look of Silence
  3. Going Clear Winter on Fire
  4. Listen to Me, Marlon What Happened, Miss Simone?
  5. Cartel Land

Best Foreign Film

  1. Son of Saul
  2. Mustang
  3. Theeb
  4. A War
  5. Embrace of the Serpent

On the bubble: The Fencer

Best Cinematography

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Sicario
  4. Carol
  5. The Hateful 8 

On the bubble: The MartianBridge of Spies

Best Costume Design

  1. Cinderella
  2. The Danish Girl
  3. Brooklyn
  4. Carol
  5. Far from the Madding Crowd

On the bubble: Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Assassin

Best Makeup and Hair

  1. Black Mass  The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  2. The Revenant 
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Production Design

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Carol The Revenant
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. The Martian

On the bubble: BrooklynCrimson Peak

Best Film Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Martian Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Spotlight
  5. The Big Short

Best Visual Effects

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Walk The Revenant

Best Original Score

  1. The Hateful 8
  2. Carol
  3. Spotlight Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. Inside Out Bridge of Spies
  5. Sicario

Best Original Song

  1. “See You Again” (Furious 7) “Manta Ray” (Facing Extinction)
  2. “Writing’s on the Wall” (Spectre)
  3. “’Til it Happens to You” (Hunting Ground)
  4. “Simple Song 3” (Youth)
  5. “Better When I’m Dancing” (The Peanuts Movie)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Sicario
  3. The Martian
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Revenant 

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. The Revenant
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Live Action Short (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Ave Maria
  2. Shok
  3. Everything Will Be Okay 
  4. Winter Light Day One
  5. Stutterer

Best Animated Short  (Total Crapshoot)

  1. World of Tomorrow
  2. If I Was God Bear Story
  3. Sanjay’s Super Team
  4. Carface Bear Story
  5. Prologue

Best Documentary Short  (Total Crapshoot)

  1. Chau, Behind the Lines
  2. My Enemy, My Brother Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  3. Last Day of Freedom
  4. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  5. Body Team 12

There’s a rumor going around that’s been circulating for a number of years. That rumor would have you believe that Hollywood is losing its creative prowess, that somehow, just because sequels and reboots tend to make more money at the box office (which would seem obvious, right? A film with a previously established target audience that already likes the subject material would obviously make more money), that there are no good new ideas in Hollywood. Of course, we already debunked that claim last year, as you can see here. However, to keep up the good work, here is a look at the source material for all wide release films of 2013 (limited release films are not included, as their presence would skew the numbers even more towards original works than they already are.

Where Did They Come From?




Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, comic books, plays, or television shows. Originals include films such as Gravity and The Croods that are completely new stories, and films such as Saving Mr. Banks and 47 Ronin, which are original stories based on “real life” events (based being the key word here). Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage. 

As you can see, Original Films were the most common film in 2013, and they have been for some years.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

(* = still in theaters)

  1. Gravity* – $653M  
  2. The Croods – $587M
  3. Pacific Rim – $408M
  4. Now You See Me – $352M
  5. The Conjuring – $317M



Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Great Gatsby), short stories (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), plays (August: Osange County), TV shows etc. Reboots such as Man of Steel are classified as Adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material. Also films like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are considered Adaptations as well. These are not actually sequels in the sense that Iron Man 3 or The Wolverine are, but actually new adaptations of works that continue the story adapted in the first film. The Catching Fire film is an Adaptation of the Catching Fire book, and not just a film continuing the story of another film.

With 40 total Adaptations, they were the second most common film in 2013.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

  1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire* –  $798M
  2. Man of Steel – $663M
  3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug* – $626M
  4. World War Z – $540M
  5. Frozen* – $507M



In this category are all films that are sequels or prequels to other films. Easy huh? There were 19 sequels in 2013.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

  1. Iron Man 3 – $1.2B <——-Yes, billion.
  2. Despicable Me 2 – $919M
  3. Fast and Furious 6 – $789M
  4. Monsters University – $744M
  5. Thor: The Dark World* – $630M


This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 3 remakes in 2013, here are their international box office totals.

  1. Evil Dead – $97M
  2. Delivery Man – $31M
  3. The Big Wedding – $22M


Top GunJurassic Park, and The Wizard of Oz were all re-released in 3D this year.

In Conclusion

Once again, we see that the vast majority of 2013 films are brand new to the screen, either by way of Original Screenplay or an Adaptation. I include the box office data here for fun, but really, the amount of money a film makes isn’t the best indicator of how good a film is. Look how much money the Twilight series made, and that was awful. In closing, a reminder that these numbers I’m posting here only include widely released films, so there’s really nobody to blame but yourself if you haven’t seen them.

The final part of This Year in Cinema comes tomorrow, with my personal favorites from 2013, and 10 films I’m excited for in 2014!

So we’ve reached the end of the line. Its time to look at the year in film, name some favorites, predict some awards, and so on. Today, its Oscarwatch, my Oscar-nominee predictions. Also, I officially predict that 12 Years a Slave will take home Best Picture at the Oscars.

Edits: (1/15): Amy Adams and Meryl Streep switch for Best Actress, Oprah Winfrey and Sally Hawkins switch for Best Supporting Actress, Omar and Two Lives in and The Grandmaster and The Missing Picture out for Best Foreign Film, All is Lost in and Rush out for Best Original Score, Lone Survivor in and Rush out for Best Sound Mixing, “Atlas” in and “Moon Song” out for Best Original Song, The Croods in and Despicable Me 2 out for Best Animated Film, Captain Phillips in and Rush out for Cinematography, Lone Survivor in and 12 Years a Slave out for Sound Editing.



Although there are still a couple weeks left before Oscar nominations are announced, I like to announce my predictions before the other awards shows (Golden Globes, etc.). Last year my rankings predicted Argo as the Best Picture winner in December, so I’m at it again.  My predictions are classified as either locks (marked with one of these: *, meaning they will for sure be nominated), and contenders, which are less certain. They are also ranked by likelihood of garnering the nomination. Here we go…

Best Picture (Between 5 and 10 films will be nominated) –  Also, I officially predict 12 Years a Slave will win Best Picture.


  1. 12 Years a Slave*
  2. Gravity*
  3. Her*
  4. American Hustle*
  5. Captain Phillips*
  6. Nebraska*
  7. The Wolf of Wall Street
  8. Inside Llewyn Davis
  9. Dallas Buyers Club
  10. Philomena

On the bubble: Saving Mr. Banks and Blue Jasmine.

List of my Best Picture favorites can be found here, with nomination listing.

Best Actor

Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska

Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Matthew McConaughey* (Dallas Buyers Club)
  3. Bruce Dern* (Nebraska)
  4. Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
  5. Robert Redford (All is Lost)

On the bubble: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street).

Best Actress


  1. Cate Blanchett* (Blue Jasmine)
  2. Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)
  3. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  4. Judi Dench (Philomena)
  5. Amy Adams (American Hustle)

On the bubble: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Brie Larson (Short Term 12).

Best Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips and Barkhad Abdi (left) as Abduwali Muse.

Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips and
Barkhad Abdi (left) as Abduwali Muse.

  1. Jared Leto* (Dallas Buyers Club)
  2. Michael Fassbender* (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  4. Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
  5. James Gandolfini (Enough Said)

On the bubble: Tom Hanks (Saving Mr. Banks), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle).

Best Supporting Actress

Julia Roberts in August: Osage County

Julia Roberts in August: Osage County

  1. Lupita Nyongo* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence* (American Hustle)
  3. June Squibb (Nebraska)
  4. Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  5. Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

On the bubble: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Best Director

Steve McQuinn directing 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen directing 12 Years a Slave

  1. Steve McQueen* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Alfonso Cuaron* (Gravity)
  3. David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  4. Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
  5. Martin Scorcese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

On the bubble: Alexander Payne (Nebraska), Spike Jonze (Her).

Best Original Screenplay

Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in American Hustle

Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in American Hustle

  1. American Hustle*
  2. Her*
  3. Blue Jasmine*
  4. Inside Llewyn Davis
  5. Nebraska

On the bubble: Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Adapted Screenplay


  1. 12 Years a Slave*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Before Midnight
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Philomena

On the bubble: August: Osage County

Best Animated Feature Film

Disney's Frozen

  1. Frozen*
  2. The Wind Rises*
  3. Monsters University
  4. The Croods
  5. Ernest and Celestine

On the bubble: Despicable Me 2, A Letter to Momo.

Best Documentary Film


  1. Stories We Tell*
  2. The Act of Killing*
  3. Blackfish
  4. 20 Feet From Stardom
  5. The Square

Best Foreign Film


  1. The Great Beauty*
  2. The Hunt
  3. The Broken Circle Breakdown
  4. Omar
  5. Two Lives

On the bubble: The Grandmaster, The Missing Picture

Best Cinematography


  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Prisoners
  5. Captain Phillips

On the bubble: Rush

Best Costume Design


  1. The Great Gatsby*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. American Hustle
  4. Oz, the Great and Powerful
  5. Saving Mr. Banks

On the bubble: The Invisible WomanThe Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Best Make-up and Hair

  1. American Hustle*
  2. The Lone Ranger
  3. Dallas Buyers Club

Best Production Design

  1. The Great Gatsby*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. Gravity
  4. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  5. American Hustle

On the bubble: Oz, the Great and PowerfulSaving Mr. Banks

Best Editing

  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. American Hustle*
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street

On the bubble: Rush

Best Visual Effects

  1. Gravity*
  2. Pacific Rim*
  3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  4. Iron Man 3
  5. Star Trek: Into Darkness

On the bubble: ElysiumThor: The Dark World.

Best Original Score

  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. Saving Mr. Banks
  4. The Book Thief
  5. All is Lost

On the bubble: RushCaptain Phillips

Best Original Song

  1. “Let it Go” (Frozen)*
  2. “Young and Beautiful” (The Great Gatsby)*
  3. “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
  4. “Atlas” (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)
  5. “I See Fire” (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Gravity*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Rush
  4. Lone Survivor
  5. All is Lost

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Gravity*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Lone Survivor
  4. All is Lost
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis

On the bubble: 12 Years a Slave, Oblivion

Best Animated Short

  1. Get a Horse*
  2. Mr. Hublot
  3. Room on the Broom
  4. The Missing Scarf
  5. Subconscious Password

Best Live Action Short

  1. The Voorman Problem
  2. Tiger Boy
  3. Dva
  4. Kush
  5. Throat Song

Best Documentary Short

  1. The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life*
  2. Facing Fear
  3. Slomo
  4. Cavedigger
  5. Jujitsu-ing Reality

Let me know what you think. Tomorrow will be wrapping up part two of This Year in Cinema: Where Did They Come From?

The Blockbuster Report

Well, we’re back. And by that I mean, we actually have a good film coming out this weekend. I didn’t get around to seeing Riddick last weekend, so feedback on that is welcome. Anyway, on with the show.


Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in Prisoners.

Prisoners is out today. Hugh Jackman plays a father who has his kid kidnapped. When the police seem to fail, he takes charge. I tend to be a little skeptical when Jake Gyllenhaal is involved, but he’s winning me over. This is my Film to See for this weekend. Strong reviews are in, and the story looks gripping.

Of course, also out this weekend is the 3D/IMAX version of The Wizard of Oz. This has been quite the year for Oz fans. If you’re looking to get your hands on a great Oz resource, check out my Annotated Wonderful Wizard of Oz book, the text is first edition, without modern edits, plus you get non-spoiler footnotes and the original dedication by L. Frank Baum. Battle of the Year is the last wide release film, which looks to get very little at the box office as a world dance competition film.

Out this week in limited release: Thanks for Sharing, which brings together the Hulk and Pepper Potts-I mean Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow in a dramedy; bodybuilding documentary Generation Iron, and A Single Shot, starring Sam Rockwell, which looks to borrow a page from Sting’s “I Hung My Head.”

Where Do They Come From?

The Wizard of Oz is, obviously, a re-release. Prisoners is an original, written by Aaron Guzikowski, and Battle of the Year, while drawing heavily from the documentary Planet B Boy, is its own story, and not a documentary, that makes it an adaptation, not a remake.

Original: 34

Adaptation: 25

Sequel/Prequel: 14

Remake: 2

Re-release: 3

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Before Midnight

2) Fruitvale Station

3) Mud

4) Blue Jasmine

5) The Spectacular Now

6) What Maisie Knew

7) Much Ado About Nothing

8) The World’s End

9) Upstream Color

10) Enough Said

New arrivals: Enough Said (#10)

Departures: Frances Ha (#10)

The Blockbuster Report

Well, summer blockbuster season is officially upon us with the debut of Iron Man 3. As a huge Marvel fan, I was looking forward to this film a bunch, and I really enjoyed it. It obviously is my ‘Movie to See’ of the weekend. Here’s my review.


In limited release this weekend, we have Michael Shannon starring in The Iceman, the romance Love is All You Need, western Dead Man’s Burden, and what could be a heart-wrenching modern rendition of What Maisie Knew. Oh yeah, and, Midget Zombie Takeover, sure to be an instant classic.

Where do the Movies Come From?

We only add one wide release this time. Iron Man 3 is a sequel in my counts, as it is a continuation of the Iron Man film series. It is the fifth sequel of the year.

Original: 17

Adaptation: 14

Sequel/Prequel: 5

Remake: 2

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Mud

2) Upstream Color

3) The Place Beyond the Pines

4) 42

5) Side Effects

6) The Croods

7) Warm Bodies

8) Stoker

9) Evil Dead

10) Oz, the Great and Powerful

New additions: Mud (#1)

Departures: Oblivion


The Blockbuster Report

This weekend, once again, we really only have one “big” film, the Michael Bay directed Pain and Gain. I really wanted this to be a good film, as it stars Tony Shaloub, AKA Mr. Monk, but one look at the trailer will show you that this will be pointless and stupid, even if it is based on a true story.

Mud Banner Poster

A better bet may be the new fresh-from-Sundance Jeff Nichols film: Mud. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Michael Shannon, the Rotten Tomatoes/Roadside Attractions synopsis goes as follows:

“Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn’t long until Mud’s visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.”

The film is in limited release only. The only other wide-released movie out this weekend is The Big Wedding, which you should stay away from. Limited release films include Arthur Newman (Colin Firth, Emily Blunt), The Numbers Station (John Cusack), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson), and 2012 Oscar nominee Kon-Tiki, Norway’s contribution to the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.

Where do the Movies Come From?

If Mud reaches wide-release status, I’ll add it, but for now, there’s just Pain and Gain and The Big Wedding. Pain and Gain was adapted from a series of Miami New Times stories by reporter Pete Collins, while The Big Wedding is an American remake of a French film. That brings our totals to…

Original: 17

Adaptation: 14

Sequel/Prequel: 4

Remake: 2

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Upstream Color

2) The Place Beyond the Pines

3) 42

4) Side Effects

5) The Croods

6) Warm Bodies

7) Stoker

8) Evil Dead

9) Oz, the Great and Powerful

10) Oblivion

New additions: Oblivion (#10)

Departures: Mama

Well, as usual, the movie front has been slow this year in January through March. Number one on the money charts though is the new Oz film, Oz, the Great and Powerful. I should preface this review with the admission that I am a sucker for prequels. I just really like seeing origin tales (unless it is a Wolverine movie made by FOX).

I went into the theater with a bit of skepticism. I had heard that Franco did a poor job, that the film really wasn’t that great, but I’ll say this. It was entertaining. Sure the acting wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen, although I did warm up to Franco, and some of the special effects were too obviously greenscreened (though I hear it was much better in 3D), but I liked the story, and it was a solid prequel, with references to lions, and scarecrows and even the Gales. I also enjoyed the L. Frank Baum Easter eggs.

I also found it interesting that they left room for a movie in between this one and the arrival of Dorothy. The silver slippers need to get to the Wicked Witch of the East, and the flying monkeys (not baboons) need to be enlisted by the Wicked Witch of the West (I did think Mila Kunis did a good job playing her, considering the iconicness of the character). There is also the whole story of Nick Chopper, and how he was turned into tin, so there’s plenty to cover in another film.

Oz is a good popcorn flick, especially when we’re in the drudges of March (I saw it last week). It is a little cheesy, but if you can get over that, it’s an enjoyable film, especially when Oz reveals his “true form.”

Of course, if you’re really into Oz, feel free to pick up my new annotated edition of the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I took out all the modern edits and worked right from a first edition copy of the book, so it is great, and its full of footnotes that will help you learn more about Baum’s magical land.

I really love this time of year. Christmas is coming up, there are great movies coming out and the awards season is upon us. I went to see Lincoln last night, and I’ll have a review of that coming next week in tandem with the first Hobbit film, which I will be seeing tomorrow. I always wait until the end of the calendar year to make official predictions and Top 10 lists, but in a truly great year for cinema, I feel the need to break the following news to certain people.

Jennifer Lawrence: Silver Linings Playbook, not The Hunger Games.

This happens every year. People think the Oscars, Golden Globes, etc. are all just a popularity contest. And although one shouldn’t deny that the Academy has their favorites, it is important to realize there are no teenagers involved in Oscar balloting. No, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t deserve any nominations for her outing as Katniss Everdeen. I’d be surprised if The Hunger Games receives any nominations at all. It’s outclassed by plenty of more deserving films, and it can’t stand up to other blockbusters, who routinely snag the “lesser” awards in special effects and art direction. From an artistic standpoint, it hasn’t a chance, and films like The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises, and Prometheus will bury it in the blockbuster categories. It was a decent outing for Lawrence, but really nothing amazingly special. 

No Major Awards for Bond, Batman, or the Avengers. 

While they did plenty of things right, there’s no way The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises, or Skyfall will be taking home major hardware. The Bond flick could procure some nice nominations, as Javier Bardem and Judi Dench have seen already, but nothing in the manner of Best Screenplay or Best Picture. The Avengers, the movie of the year at the box office and the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater ever, isn’t the type of film the Academy likes, although it should get some special effects love. And Batman? Sorry, but your movie just wasn’t that great. I enjoyed it sure, but too many plot holes and stupid death scenes. Plus, I wouldn’t nominate any of the actors, even the supporting ones, because they didn’t have enough to work with. Again, we could see some “minor award,” but  nothing big, and that’s fine.

Argo and Zero Dark Thirty Could be Sneaky

Don’t be surprised if these two sneak up on everything and snag some major hardware. Nominated for five Golden Globes, Ben Affleck’s Argo has flown under the radar since its release, and Zero Dark Thirty is just starting to pick up the pace, and could challenge films like Lincoln and Les Miserables for some key awards, especially in the acting department.

The Special Effects Race will be Tight

The special effects awards could break any which way at this point. Prometheus was mesmerizing, The Avengers was done very well, and Life of Pi has been getting rave reviews in this department. And as disappointing as it was to many viewers, Cloud Atlas has been kicking up some dust as well. A lot of deserving candidates out there now.

That’s all I have for now. Feel free to respond with some input or predictions you have. My Top Ten Films list will come out at the end of this month, and I always like discussing it with folks, so let me know what you think.

P.S. I’m as baffled as you are by the attention given to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The book is good though.

So Wreck-It Ralph is awesome. That is all.

Ok, just kidding, that’s not all. But after walking out of that movie theater, I felt that I had just seen one of the funnest, best put together films of all time. From start to finish it entertains. The people who made this thought of everything. When we’re standing in the lobby of an 80s arcade game hotel, the windows and splattered frosting are pixelated, and the occupants move in that jerky way we know belonged to days of rough graphics. Safes are opened with an ‘up, down, A, B” code on a Nintendo controller, and you get to see “what really happens” that makes arcade games work. Who knew that power strips are actually basically transportation hubs for arcade characters?

The animation is brilliant, and flawlessly transitions from the retro ‘Wreck-It Ralph” to the brutal ‘Hero’s Duty’ to the candy filled ‘Sugar Rush’ that actually made me hungry. And you won’t want to miss the end credits as there is some funny stuff going on there as well.

Carried by John C. Reilly (Ralph), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope), Jane Lynch (Calhoun), Alan Tudyk (King Candy), and Jack McBrayer (Felix), this is a truly brilliant cast, and even the bit roles, at any moment, are primed to unleash both brilliantly hilarious lines, and/or pearls of wisdom that really give this film a deeper quality than some of the fluff that passes for family entertainment. We learn that being a hero is more than just winning medals, that greatness can come from the unlikeliest of places, and that it is always a good idea to help out the homeless Q*bert by giving him the extra cherry you just stole from Pac-man.

And of course, there are the video games. Oh my, are we immersed in them. And while people my age are more likely to get all the references and recognize more characters, there’s something here for everyone. I will refrain from giving examples so I won’t spoil the surprise.

I’m giving this five out of five stars. To put it simply, if this doesn’t win the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, then the Academy has completely lost it. If you love video games you’ll love it, if you don’t, you’ll still love it, because this is a quality film that brings something fresh and fun at a mile a minute. Go see it.