Saturday, January 14, 2012


The last of my summary posts. The 2000's is a decade where films are more professional than ever. Special effects are the best they've ever been. The movies are as good as the 90's, a bit better I would say, so it looks like there is a continuous upward trend in quality. So far the 2010's have continued the trend and there is a good chance we will catch up to the 1970's one day soon, I hope.

And here is the last of what I've seen so far. Look close, there may just be a bio-pic hidden in there.

Films I have seen - Gladiator (Best Picture), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic
Films I have not seen - Chocolat
Analysis - Gladiator is a action drama in the epic style of Spartacus or other Roman era films, great fighting scenes. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is the first martial arts film to be nominated and much better than the cheesy low budget films that are common to this genre. And great special effects too. Erin Brockovich is a nice drama bio-pic based on the true story of a woman who helped a community that was effected by polluted ground water. Traffic is an attempt to be like Magnolia in telling multiple stories about the drug war, but is still a good drama. It jumps a bit too much, but very interesting in the color tinting that is used for each story line.
Verdict - Gladiator was better, it had the epic feel, looked better than the rest, but overall not a week year from what I have seen.

Films I have seen - A Beautiful Mind (Best Picture), The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!
Films I have not seen - Gosford Park, In the Bedroom
Analysis - A Beautiful Mind is a powerful drama about the life of John Nash and his bouts of insanity. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first in the Lord of the Rings series and a great fantasy film with great special effects. Moulin Rouge is a flaming cat turd that is unwatchable. Using popular music in a 1890's setting is obnoxious. Even though they used Nirvana, it is a horrible film. That is unless you are a 14 year old girl, then this is the greatest movie ever made.
Verdict - Of what I've seen, A Beautiful Mind is the best of the three, a depressing drama, but a very good film.

Films I have seen - Chicago (Best Picture), Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Two Towers, The Pianist
Films I have not seen - None
Analysis - Chicago is a movie version of the famous musical. If you like the musical then you liked the film. If you don't like musicals then you would rather have your toenails removed. Gangs of New York is a powerful epic by Scorsese that is one of his best. The Hours is an interesting film based on the life of Virginia Wolfe and people who are effected by her writing in two different time lines. Nice stylish film and very good acting, but since I haven't read Virginia Wolfe I don't think I appreciated it enough. The Two Towers is probably the best of the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings, same as the last one, just them further on in the journey. The Pianist is a bio-pic about Wladyslaw Szpilman and how he survived in Poland during WWII. It is a Roman Polanski film, but since he has spent some more time in jail and suffered a bit, I was able to watch this film. A more interesting subject would have been about Wilm Hosenfeld, the German officer who saved Szpilman.
Verdict - Once again Martin Scorsese was cheated out of best director and best picture. I can only guess that after 9/11 a movie such as Chicago, like Tom Jones after President Kennedy assassination, could win. I would put Gangs of New York as the best picture, The Two Towers as a very close second, The Hours, The Pianist and Chicago far last.

Films I have seen - The Return of the King (Best Picture), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Mystic River
Films I have not seen - Seabiscuit
Analysis - The Return of the King is the last of the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings. Lost in Translation was an interesting drama with Bill Murray playing one of his finest, or only finest, dramatic roles of a actor making a commercial in Japan and his mid-life crisis. Master and Commander is a great action film in the style of swashbuckler colonial era boating films, as if there is a genre for that? Great acting, keeps you interested all the way through. Mystic River is a powerful drama with great acting by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins of a community dealing with a murder and other skeletons in closets.
Verdict - The Return of the King was given an overall Oscar for all three of the movies and to be honest, I understand why. It wasn't the best of the trilogy but it was a very good film that deserved to win.

Films I have seen - Million Dollar Baby (Best Picture), The Aviator, Ray, Sideways
Films I have not seen - Finding Neverland
Analysis - Million Dollar Baby is a intense drama and a very depressing film about a female boxer. It is a Clint Eastwood film and his quality is generally very good, this time is no exception. The Aviator, another well done Scorsese film, is based on the life of Howard Huges. Great acting by Leonardo DiCaprio, worth watching. Ray is another bio-pic about the life of Ray Charles, great acting by Jamie Fox who won the best actor for the role. Sideways is a dramatic comedy about a man's passion for wine and his attempt to fix his life. Interesting film but not great.
Verdict - While The Aviator was very stylist and well done, Million Dollar Baby was the best overall film. It finally got Morgan Freedman his long overdue Oscar that Tom Hanks stole from him ten years earlier.

Films I have seen - Crash (Best Picture), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night Good Luck
Films I have not seen - Munich
Analysis - Crash is a powerful movie that deals directly with racism in our society, great drama, follows the Magnolia style of jumping between multiple story lines. Brokeback Mountain is a love story about two people who can't be together because of the obligations they have in their lives, so they can only be together on vacation. Sounds like Same Time, Next Year, right? So why was this film nominated, because the the main characters are men. Otherwise from that it is just another romance film. If it was a story about a man and a woman, would it had been nominated for best picture? Capote is another bio-pic, rather popular during the early party of the decade, about Truman Capote doing research for In Cold Blood. Not a great film but perfect acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman who easily won the best actor Oscar. Good Night Good Luck was a failed attempt to show Edward R. Murrow smearing and attacking Senator Joseph McCarthy that just falls flat.
Verdict - Thankfully the academy got it right this year, Crash was the best and nothing came close of what I've seen so far. I'm rather confident that Munich won't be better, but I'll know for sure when I see it.

Films I have seen - The Departed (Best Picture), Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
Films I have not seen - Babel
Analysis - The Departed is a exact remake, with the exception of the ending, of a Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs. Not Scorsese's best, good acting with an all star cast though. Letters from Iwo Jima is a fascinating film about WWII but from the side of the Japanese army. Really makes you respect what a powerful enemy we were fighting back then. Little Miss Sunshine is a waste of time that goes nowhere very slowly about parents taking their child a beauty pageant. It shows just how dangerous it is to give everyone a participation trophy or play sports without points or without winner and losers, this film is not best picture worthy. The Queen is a dry drama about Queen Elizabeth during the death of Princess Diana. If you are caught up in the soap opera of the royal family, then this is a great film. If you are like any normal American and don't care what a bunch of tyrants do in another country, then this is like watching paint dry.
Verdict - While I have seen about half of Babel, I never saw the end so I will wait to give a full assessment until then. Letters to Iwo Jima was the best movie, but because it is practically a foreign film, spoken in Japanese with subtitles, it wouldn't win. And this is a shame. But the academy wanted to make it up to Martin Scorsese for missing out on Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York, and others and gave The Departed the Oscar. Martin Scorsese deserves an Oscar, many Oscars, but not for this film.

Films I have seen - No Country for Old Men (Best Picture), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
Films I have not seen - None
Analysis - No Country for Old Men is one of the best movies I have ever seen, the best of the decade. The Coen brothers nailed this one on the head. A simple, but very well acted and told story about a man who finds money after a botched drug deal and his attempt to escape with the money. Javiar Bardem is so amazing, so great as the villain in this film, just terrific. Atonement is a drama that takes place in England in the 30's and during WWII. Never gains traction even with the amazing ten minute (or something in that time frame) continuous shot of the beach at Dunkirk. Juno is a clever comedy drama about a teenager deciding to carry her baby through to term. Michael Clayton is a suspenseful drama about a lawyer who people are trying to kill or something. Too many plot twist and turns gets annoying and fast. There Will Be Blood is a great drama about an Oil Baron and his rise to power.
Verdict - No question here. Nothing, even if you combined the remaining films together twice, would come anywhere close to No Country for Old Men. Second would be There Will Be Blood. Third would be Juno. Fourth is Michael Clayton and Atonement is fifth.

Films I have seen - Slumdog Millionaire (Best Picture), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk
Films I have not seen - The Reader
Analysis - Slumdog Millionaire is a very, very depressing movie about a young man who is on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Even though he is uneducated, all of the horrible events in his life help him answer the questions. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on a F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a man who is born looking like an 84 year old man who gets younger as he ages. Very good acting by Brad Pitt and amazing makeup and special effects. Frost/Nixon is based on the David Frost interview of Richard Nixon after he resigned as President. A bit slow and boring at times. Milk, another bio-pic, about Harvey Milk and his assassination.
Verdict - Of the four, nothing really climbs to the top so I'll go with Slumdog Millionaire and agree with the academy. Note that this is the last year of only five nominees.

Films I have seen - The Hurt Locker (Best Picture), Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
Films I have not seen - An Education, Precious
Analysis - The first year since 1943 when more than five films could be nominated for best picture. The Hurt Locker is a badly done war film about soldiers in Iraq dismantling bombs. Avatar is the big budget film with amazing special effects. Too bad they ran out of money and couldn't hire someone to write a screenplay. The Blind Side, another bio-pic about a homeless boy who is taken in by a loving family and taught how to play football. Not the best film you will ever see, but enjoyable and worth watching. District 9 is a sci-fi film about aliens who have landed on earth and are currently quarantined in South Africa and how their community is a ghetto. Inglourious Basterds is a horrible film with one exception, Christoph Waltz does a great acting job and earned best supporting actor. A Serious Man is a funny Coen brother's film about a physics professor dealing with his life falling apart. Up is a Pixar film that is so well done as a cartoon, you don't think of it as just a cartoon, but an interesting fantasy about a balloon trip to the lost jungles of South America. Up in the Air is a drama about a professional who fires people and his attempt to find love and happiness. If you have ever been laid off, don't watch this film. I tried to watch it right after I was laid off and got five minutes into it and had to stop. I waited until I finally got a job and it was still difficult to watch.
Verdict - The Hurt Locker was not the best film, that should have gone to A Serious Man. Maybe because No Country for Old Men won two years earlier it didn't get it, but the academy messed up in my opinion. I know there was a desire to give an Oscar to an Iraqi war film but they should have waited until a good one came along.

Films I have seen - The Kings Speech (Best Picture), 127 Hours, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3
Films I have not seen - Black Swan, The Fighter, True Grit, Winter's Bone
Analysis - The Kings Speech, don't be surprised but another bio-pic, about King George the stammer trying to learn how to give a radio address without stammering. 127 Hours is a painful film about a mountain climber who gets his right arm pinned under a rock and has to cut it off. This film could have been 25 minutes, not over 90. He gets his arm stuck and for an hour that's all there is! I feel bad for the guy losing part of his arm but at the same time you see he was a daredevil who got was coming to him. Inception is one of the finest sci-fi films that gets you thinking after it's done. The idea that dreams can be controlled and to go layers of dreams within dreams is an amazing concept. The Kids Are All Right is a film about a couple who's children seek out their birth father. The twist is that they are two women and one of them has an affair with him. Nothing great about this drama just that because it wasn't a man and a women was the only reason why it was nominated. The Social Network, get this another bio-pic, about Facebook. It was popular because there are 12 billion people on Facebook, but it was a very good film with good acting and the story flow goes good jumping back and forth with different time lines. Toy Story 3 is another Pixar film that is again so well done it's like watching a regular film but with animated actors. Even if you haven't seen the first two films you can still watch and enjoy this one.
Verdict - The Kings Speech was a great film but I really like Inception the best so far.

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