Panasonic Gh4

Feb 062014
 

I am not going to go all the way back, so I will set the cap for the past 25 years, including this year. So this list will span from 1988 to 2013. Also, I will keep my nominated films confined to “commercial” films that Hollywood can stomach. No foreign exotics in the running here; just lame, generic “Best Pictury” films.

1988: Rain Man

Who actually won: Rain Man

Mississippi Burning may be the more important film, but I think they got it right with Rain Man. I think Rain Man holds up better as well, I didn’t realize that Mississippi Burning was from the late 80′s! Gene Hackman always screams 70′s. A weak year for sure. May personal favorite contender for that year was Working Girl, but it is a silly movie and should not be in the running for Best Picture. Overall, 1988 was an average year for film.

1989: Do the Right Thing

Do The Right Thing

Who actually won: Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy was a beautiful film. It pretty much trumps all of the competition except Do the Right Thing. Do the Right Thing is more creative, more cinematically bold, and more important. 1989 was an underwhelming year, saved by Do the Right Thing and Driving Miss Daisy. I suggest you watch Do The Right Thing, and then cheer yourself up by watching Driving Miss Daisy.  Overall, 1989 was an average year for film.

1990: Dances with Wolves

Who actually won: Dances with Wolves

I always loved Goodfellas, but not in a best picture kind of way. It is certainly the more satisfying film, but I believe that there is a lot more to Dances with Wolves than Goodfellas. I always felt detached when watching Goodfellas. The persistent music, cursing, violence and narration is very repetitive. Don’t get me wrong; I like the film. Overall, 1990 was an average year for film.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

Who actually won: The Silence of the Lambs

It boils down to JFK and Thelma and Louise not being better than The Silence of the Lambs. JFK was your typical Oliver Stone melodrama, and Thelma and Louis is a film I just never understood. Maybe friendship films get an unfair bias (Driving Miss Daisy, Shawshank Redemption). This is was a weak year. Overall, 1991 was a poor year for film.

1992: Unforgiven

Unforgiven

Who actually won: Unforgiven

A very easy choice, it’s not even close. There were a bunch of mediocre films, and one modern classic. Overall, 1992 was a poor year for film.

1993: Schindler’s List

Who actually won: Schindler’s List

Again, not even close. Schindler’s List is truly one of the greatest films ever made in my opinion. On the whole, the year was not very strong. Overall, 1993 was a below average year for film.

1994: Pulp Fiction

Who actually won: Forrest Gump

Unlike Godfellas, I feel no detachment with Pulp Fiction. I feel like I am in the journey, the dialogue holds up well and there is much more to this film than over the top sensation. I love the camera work, lighting, and editing in Pulp Fiction. This was a strong year: Three Colors: Red, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption,  and The Lion King could have all been my runner up. I loved Forrest Gump as a child, it has a particular way of dealing with tragedy in a warm and light way. Overall, 1994 was an extremely strong year for film.

1995: Apollo 13

Who actually won: Braveheart

Braveheart is more epic, but a bit too personal. Mel Gibson has a way of making epic films that are obviously personal to him and gritty, but don’t feel as emotional or epic as they should. I kind of got the same vibe with Apocalypto. Apollo 13 is flat out solid. I recently watched the ever so overrated Gravity and kept thinking to myself how much better Apollo 13 is. Overall, 1995 was an above average year for film.

1996: The English Patient

Who actually won: The English Patient

I feel wrong choosing Pulp Fiction over Forrest Gump and then doing it again by choosing Fargo over the The English Patient. I love the The English Patient, it’s one of my favorite films; beautifully shot and wonderfully directed. The film is unambitious and just nice. I don’t know how to put it into words. I initially picked Fargo as the winner, but the more I think about it the more fitting it is to sell out and pick The English Patient. The Coens made something very special. The score is amazing, the cinematography is creative and wonderful, and the performances by the entire cast are cohesive and hilarious. Overall, 1996 was an above average year for film.

1997: Titanic

Who actually won: Titanic

It seems as though picking anything other than Titanic would be a sin. I don’t like giving best picture awards out to films that are considered “best” because of technical achievements or grand scale. If I was not a coward I would pick Good Will Hunting. But… Titainc is a solid beyond the CGI. The story is very engaging, and it’s a mandatory cinematic experience. Overall, 1997 was an above average year for film.

1998: Life Is Beautiful

Who actually won: Shakespeare in Love

1998 is a funny year because you had Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, and The Thin Red Line all losing to Shakespeare in Love in the category of Best Picture. My personal favorite film in the running is The Thin Red Line but that’s because I am a cinematography nut. The best film this year, without question was Life Is Beautiful. Saving Private Ryan is one of the most overrated films of all time by my calculations. Life Is Beautiful is the best acted film in the running, and it really lingers with you. The color grading is superb, not over the top like in Saving Private Ryan. I will never forget Roberto Benigni marching over-dramatically, reminding his son that it is just a game. Overall, 1998 was an extremely strong year for film.

1999: American Beauty

American Beauty

Who actually won: American Beauty

Nothing comes close to touching this film. Easy year for American Beauty, let’s move along. Overall, 1999 was an average year for film.

2000: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Who actually won: Gladiator

I’m not hot on any of the films from this year. Recently watching Traffic and Gladiator I feel neither are as good as I initial felt, Erin Brockovich sucks, therefore leaving Chocolat or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chocolat is not best picture material, therefor I must settle with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is how my logic would have gone had O Brother, Where Art Thou? not been made. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an unimportant but excellently well made film. That is kind of how most Ceon Brothers’ films are, unimportant thematically but excellent. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a pure gimmick, and if you have never seen foreign films maybe you were impressed by it. Overall, 2000 was an average year for film.

2001: Gosford Park

Who actually won: A Beautiful Mind

This was a bizarre year where you could literally pick whoever you want to win: Gosford Park, Amélie, Black Hawk Down, Mullholand Dr., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, or A Beautiful Mind.. Gosford Park is flat out better filmmaking than A Beautiful Mind, so I chose it over A Beautiful Mind. Amélie is a bit too… I don’t know, innocent? My personal favorite film of the bunch (and one of my favorite films in general) is Mullholand Dr. Overall, 2001 was  a slightly above average year for film.

2002: The Pianist

Who actually won: Chicago

I think Road to Perdition and The Pianist are the best films of this year, Road to Perdition being only marginally better than the competition. Chicago is a kid’s movie and the Lord of The Rings Series sucks more or less. The Pianist is so much better than Road to Perdition and I don’t understand how it got snubbed. Overall, 2002 was a slightly below average year for film.

2003: City of God

City of God

Who actually won: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

2003 was truly awful year for films and so it is not surprising that an awful film won best picture. City of God isn’t particularly excellent, I prefer the actual television series (City of Men). Overall, 2003 was an awful year for film.

2004: The Aviator

Who actually won: The Aviator

2004 was a particularly weak year as well. I feel Million Dollar Baby is a bit of a gimmick. Often times when women are lead roles, or the script contains tragic twists people get excited for reasons other than the film being good. I think the Aviator is a better film. Overall, 2004 was a moderate year for film.

2005: Brokeback Mountain

Who actually won: Crash

Another awful year. Brokeback Mountain was decent marginally better than Crash. I enjoyed Crash way more. Brokeback Mountain was far too depressing, cold and empty. The biggest sin, however, is that despite being set in the scenic Midwest, Ang Lee made very little effort to make Brokeback Mountain visually beautiful. The Midwest doesn’t feel grand, lonesome or beautiful the way it should – it was merely a backdrop. Munich felt far too sensational, and I felt it should have been gritty. Obviously Spielberg is not a gritty director. Overall, 2005 was a poor year for film.

2006: Pan’s Labyrinth

Who actually won: The Departed

The Departed is one of the most over the top and utterly idiotic “Best Picture” films I have ever seen. When I was young and watched it in the theater I though it was amazing. Now I am a bit wiser and it’s just a silly film. This year was an awful one and maybe granting The Departed the award for best picture was actually an indirect life achievement award for Martin Scorcese. Pan’s Labyrinth was unique, well shot, dark, and the definition of what films should strive to be. Children of Men and Little Miss Sunshine are more deserving then the Departed. Overall, 2006 was an above average year for film.

2007: Atonement

Who actually won: No Country for Old Men

After the awe of one of the greatest villains wore off, and a few years passed, I was not as impressed with No Country for Old Men. Quite the opposite happened with There Will Be Blood upon a second watching. Neither film is amazing, and Atonement may have been the most fundamentally solid/non-gimmicky film of the bunch. Overall, 2007 was an excellent year for film.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire

Who actually won: Slumdog Millionaire

Sleek, unique, and chic. Slumdog Millionaire was awesome and The Reader was a distant second. This year has a bunch of mediocre films, and so the year was not strong. Overall, 2008 was a below average year for film

2009: Nothing deserved to win

Who actually won: Don’t know, don’t care.

I would say 2009 is one of the weakest years in the history of the Academy Awards. Overall, 2009 was one of the worst years of all time for film

2010: The King’s Speech

Who actually won: The King’s Speech

I hate picking this film because I felt it was extremely plain and underwhelming. Take for instance Children of a Lesser God, which covered a similar theme. Now that is what I call a beautifully acted and emotional film. The King’s Speech is hollow and uninspiring when compared to Children of a Lesser God. The Social Network was very entertaining, but Sorkin is so pretentious that I can’t take this film as anything beyond Web 2.0 antisocial nerd fiction. I assume the creation of Facebook was not this entertaining, and I think eventually I will see this film as a convoluted fantasy about a bunch of douche bags. Overall, 2010 was an awful year for film.

2011: The Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Who actually won: The Artist

Another turd of a year if you ask me. Malick is a bit too extreme with The Tree of Life so I can’t pick him. You know what? The Artist is even more extreme and more artsy than The Tree of Life. #&%$# The Artist. I’m picking The Tree of Life. Overall, 2011 was a poor year for film.

2012: Lincoln

Who actually won: Argo

I don’t see how you pick a pointless film like Argo over Lincoln. I really don’t understand it. Lincoln was so well directed I could not believe it. It was a film I was not looking forward to watching initially, but minutes into it I was enthralled. Overall, 2012 was an average year for film.

2013: 12 Years a Slave

Who actually won: I better Goddamn be 12 Years a Slave

Lets see, Argo won Best Picture last year. Had it not won Silver Linings Playbook probably would have, which means this year American Hustle will probably take the honors. I need to disclose that I hated American Hustle with a passion. I hope it wins nothing and is forgotten about forever. 12 Years a Slave is one of the better films of the last decade. Overall, 2013 was a below average year for film.

Conclusion:

I disagreed with 14 of the 24 winners, the dissent fell primarily towards the more recent years raising a question. Will I eventually agree with the Academy’s recent choices after a certain period of time? I must say the recent decade has been very weak and I doubt very many films will emerge as timeless classics.  Anyway, 10/24 results in an agreement percentage of 41.7% which means I don’t like my odds for 12 Years a Slave winning.

Feb 102013
 
Shawshank-Redemption-Screen-Shot

The other day I was bored, so I decided to have a gander at the top ranked films on IMDB. I was just curious to see if there were any cool movies I should check out. What struck me was how overrated a bunch of films were. Honestly I feel if the list was called top 250 most overrated films, it would be an amazing list. Anyway, this silly article of mine is not picking on IMDB or its users. I just want to think out loud here and voice my opinion on film lists and the word “greatest”. Let’s take a look at some films from the IMDB top 250 (in order):

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Fight Club (1999)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Se7en (1995)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Léon: The Professional (1994)
Memento (2000)
American History X (1998)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Departed (2006)
Gladiator (2000)
The Green Mile (1999)
The Prestige (2006)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Snatch. (2000)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
The Avengers (2012)
Heat (1995)
Sin City (2005)
Jaws (1975)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Trainspotting (1996)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Into the Wild (2007)
Black Swan (2010)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Artist (2011)
District 9 (2009)

I stopped @ 203 with District 9. The reason for my premature stoppage was that once I came across the following series of:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Ip Man (2008)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

I realized that having a list extend to include the entire top 250 won’t prove my point any better. The point is this: If you are looking for some good movies to watch, and are using IMDB top 250 as a point of reference, you will have a bleh you must weed through. Furthermore, you will not get many old or foreign movies to choose from. “Bleh” is a harsh phrase, I suppose. “Movies that should not be listed in the top 250″ is a more sensitive way of conveying what I mean.

Now let me point out that the above list I have compiled is not a list of crappy movies. I would consider many of these movies as being amongst the best in their genres. I would even consider some of the movies as the best movies ever made. So why do I consider these movies over rated? Well, because whether or not something is overrated is a function of how people rate it. So if something is ranked as being the best, but in reality it is the second or third best, then it is considered to be overrated by one or two spots. Obviously when we are dealing with something as subjective as movie rankings, there is no true number one or number three, and so the thought of meticulously quantifying how overrated something is can be quite miserable. And assigning a number of spots by which a movie is overrated is even more miserable if there is no true master list.

Now that we have gotten the obvious points out of the way, I will say that The Shawshank Redemption is overrated by 87 spots. Okay, maybe it is not overrated by 87 spots. But lets be honest, that movie is most defiantly not the greatest movie ever made. And here is the one line in this post that contains my honest, non sarcastic opinion; If you include foreign films in a greatest of all time movie list, I doubt The Shawshank Redemption would even crack the top 100. Why am I so confident that it is not the greatest movie ever made? Because it has not been around long enough. By my criteria a movie that is considered to be “modern” cannot mathematically be the greatest movie ever made. That’s right. I brought math as well as my personal criteria this, but hear me out for one second. One thing that must be understood is when I’m talking about the “greatest”, I am not talking about “most enjoyable”, “most entertaining”, “best executed” or “best shot”. When I talk about greatest, I am primarily talking about “most important”. My criteria for evaluating the greatness of a film relies on its technical legacy. Style, camera work, sound, pace, lighting, cutting, editing… all that type of stuff gets lumped into a film’s technical legacy. Then once all those elements of the film are accounted for, one can address the story, plot, and whatever else there is to address. Even though the story, characters, and whatever else there is to address are afterthoughts in my criteria, they are still very important. After all, without those elements, we would feel quite detached from films.

In other words, how would erasing this movie from filmmaking existence change the course of filmmaking? Honestly, I doubt removing any one movie from film history would impact the progress of filmmaking in a significant manner. But surely some movies are more important than others. It isn’t until you define the criteria in this way that you understand why many boring (by our modern standards) films get ranked so high. So the crux of my argument is this; most greates film lists have a different set of rules they play by. If you want to get into debates about film greatness, you should adopt logically conforming criteria. My “importance” factor is just my take on it. There are plenty of ways of ranking the greatness of films. Just make sure the criteria is not the same as the criteria you use for ranking your favorite movies, otherwise your “greatest films” list is just a favorite films list.

So what is the greatest film of all time, since it is not The Shawshank Redemption? I don’t know. Rashomon, Citizen Kane, Metropolis, etc… take your pick from an “important” oldish film. I think Citizen Kane is a safe choice.

One thing that is clear; the IMDB top 250 list is not a list of the greatest movies of all time. It is a list of the highest rated movies. In other words, it is a list of movies that received a lot of high scores, and few low scores. I see the list as a list of movies that are hard to dislike. If someone ordered me to watch all the movies on this list over the course of a year I would be satisfied.

So why are the movies listed above so overrated? Because people are not rating movies based on how great they are, but based on how much they liked the movie. After all, this is how I rate movies on Netflix and this is why I rated The Nutty Prefessor Two: The Klumps a solid four stars. Anyway, I realize criticizing IMDB’s list is stupid, and I was just using it as a reference for finding overrated movies. But it got me wondering, do people have two separate movie ranking lists like I do? I have two lists that I obsess over, my all time greatest film list and my all time favorite film list. I think the former list is a good way of paying respect and appreciation to classic movies. It also encourages you step away from your opinions and try to analyze the movie in an objective way. It’s a way of “getting” a movie even if you don’t like it.

Rewatchability is a nice word. Oh, hey speaking of the word rewatchability, I also have a desert island movie list which obviously favors rewatchability. Basically the list is such: If you could only watch 10 movies for the rest of your life, what would they be? This desert island list is great for figuring out whether or not you should buy a movie. For instance Dumb And Dumber is worth more to me than Amadeus even though I may rank Amadeus as a better film because I can watch Dumb and Dumber over and over again.

When I was scanning through the IMDB top 250 list, I was trying to be fairly conservative in what I highlighted and copied on to my notepad thus deeming it as overrated. Despite my leniency I think I was too harsh towards some movies. Like maybe The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Pulp Fiction (1994) are not as overrated as I think they are. Maybe I am being harsh on Jaws (1975). But really that is it. Those few movies are the only ones I feel have a case for being omitted from the list I have compiled. I was actually quite shocked with how low Blade Runner is listed on IMDB. I guess, people I know personally tend overrate Blade Runner, while IMDBers don’t? Personally, it’s one of my favorites, and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films of all time.

If you want to see some of my movie lists, check out the Greatest Films of All Time and My Favorite Films of All Time.

Feb 022013
 
Ted_Film_Still_a_l

I am not a fan of Family Guy. But I do love American Dad (Seth MacFarlane makes that show to right? I have no clue). This movie, in stark contrast to The Hangover 2, is very dirty AND very funny. The music is nice, the characters are all  likeable, there is something charming throughout. I don’t like that Seth MacFarlane used his Peter Griffin voice for Ted. I feel he should have switched it up a little bit. That was my only complaint. This movie has a variety of random stuff, awesome stuff, and funny stuff. Though it starts off real good and then loses a bit of steam when the plot kicks in, I still found the movie to be pretty darn  satisfying.

Jan 272013
 
Total Recall

total-recall2

My Notes:

The original is easily one of my favorite action sci-fi films. Too many lens flares in this one. Lots of funky camera work in the beginning, thankfully it’s mostly only in the beginning. They use dolly shots, a good amount of stabilized hand held shots, zoom, and slow motion. It’s just way too much style for my taste.

Tons of special effects/environments that look like crap. Some of it looks good. Slight Minority Report rip off (with the landing/flying on top of futuristic car thingy). Starting from the recall scene, it is pure, monotonous action for a good 30 minutes. There a a few other 20 minute action sequences later on in the film.

If you don’t want to watch this movie let me summarize it for you: imagine you watched Star Wars, The Bourne Identity, Minority Report, a cheap Blade Runner knockoff, the original Total Recall, and IRobot all in one movie. It really is that awful/amazing depending on how appealing this smorgasbord sounds to you. I prefer In Bruges. The zero gravity shoot out was pretty neat though.

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