Friday, February 24, 2012
Well, it’s that time of year again: Oscar predictions. Film writers and bloggers like to write about upsets and surprises and snubs and guarantees...but the truth is, no matter how much everyone likes to pretend like they know what’s going on inside the Academy’s mind, we’re all pretty much flying blind. Oh, sure, we’ve got plenty of evidence to build our cases upon–the biggest being the slew of various committee awards given out in the months building up to the big night–but at the end of the day, those really don’t add up to as much as we like to think they do. The ripe, rich history of Oscar shockers proves that.
Below, I’ve listed my personal predictions, minus the BS–you’ll find no arguing for why one nomination will win over another here, folks. I've based my guess strictly on what directions I sense the wind of the Academy steering in, as well as, admittedly, some of my own personal hopes and preferences. Like many of you, the thing I look forward to most on Oscar night isn’t pretending to know who or what is going to win, but rather, kicking back with my notecarded predictions and letting the oh-so-fake-but-oh-so-glamourous tidings of the event sweep over me for 26 hours (or however long the broadcast tends to last). I feel good about my predictions–some more than others–but regardless of how well I do numbers-wise, the fun won’t be diluted by overconfidence or grandiosity (I’m not smart enough for that, anyway). So, without further ado, here are my picks for who will win big come Sunday night:
Posted by Ben Brown at 2:18 PM
Friday, February 17, 2012
With the release today of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (which currently has a glowing 12% on Rotten Tomatoes), I figured it was as good a time as any to write up a piece that I've been itching to tackle for a while now: the Top 7 Worst Superhero Films of All Time. Below you'll find my picks for #7-#1, as well as some "honorable" mentions below that.
7. Spider-Man 3:
Of the seven movies on this list, Spider-Man 3 is definitely the best of the bunch...yet oddly enough, it’s also easily the most disappointing. Coming off of the awesomeness of Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi and company seemed to have all the materials they needed to make a terrific conclusion to their three-film story arch. Yet sadly, that didn’t happen. Crammed with subplots–many of which feel as if they were ripped from a soap opera, including Peter’s on-and-off-and-on-again relationship with Mary Jane, and a story thread with Harry that features, of all things, amnesia–the film tries its hardest to juggle the material, yet ultimately collapses under the weight of its excess.
Fault shouldn’t go solely to Raimi–stories of the studio’s pressuring of the director to include Venom in the film have been well documented–but regardless of whoever the blame goes, it still doesn’t change the fact that Spider-Man 3 represents a huge missed opportunity. The fact that it remains Raimi’s final sendoff to the series only makes the aftertaste that much more bitter.
Posted by Ben Brown at 1:46 PM
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
With the re-release of 'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' this weekend, I thought I'd share a few of my own personal thoughts on Episode I, both as a film and as the starting point for one of the most maligned trilogies in film history.
Posted by Ben Brown at 5:40 AM
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
What a wonderful movie this is. Director Alexander Payne has a unique gift: the ability to create worlds and characters that are instantly recognizable and–most importantly–instantly relatable. He’s firing on all cylinders in The Descendants, taking what are fairly played out storytelling tropes–an exotic land (Hawaii), a coma, an affair, a single parent attempting to raise his/her troubled children, etc.–and elevating them so as to make them grounded. He’s even able to take George Clooney, one of the most familiar stars in the world, and make him...well, just a little less familiar. The Descendants is this year’s everyman movie.
Posted by Ben Brown at 9:18 PM
Monday, January 16, 2012
Click here to hear some of my thoughts regarding the cultural phenomenon that surrounds Stieg Larsson's trilogy.
Posted by Ben Brown at 4:55 PM
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Rango is not a children’s movie. It’s not even really an adults movie. It is, first and foremost, a movie lover’s movie–a big, messy scattershot of ideas and influences, ranging from Sergio Leone all the way up to Hunter S. Thompson. The animation is beautiful; Johnny Depp is delightfully quirky, even in CGI form; the story is both witty and pleasantly standard. Yet Gore Verbinski makes no qualms about who he is catering to with Rango; it’s a film that is for film fanatics, made by film fanatics.
Posted by Ben Brown at 9:12 PM
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
35. How to Die In Oregon
If this isn’t the grimmest, most devastating movie of the year...well, then please don’t tell me what is. How to Die In Oregon takes an up close look at legalized assisted suicide, both in its legal and personal repercussions. It makes for a tough, at times almost unwatchable ordeal; yet the film is always honest, and never gratuitous or insensitive. And regardless of one’s own political beliefs, it’s impossible to deny the power in watching someone take life-ending prescription pills and then waiting for the end to come. Don’t watch the film to be entertained; watch it to be be pained.
Posted by Ben Brown at 7:17 PM
Monday, January 9, 2012
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Shocker, right? Like anyone didn’t already know that Fassbender was this year’s biggest breakout. Consider the films he starred in in 2011: Jane Eyre. X-Men First Class. A Dangerous Method. Shame. All, to one extent or another, acclaimed pictures. All well recognized. All widely seen. Throw in next year’s double-shot of Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, and you’ve got a lineup that Brad Pitt or George Clooney would envy, let alone a newcomer like Fassbender.
The man is great–what else is there to say? He was stuffy in the best ways in Jane Eyre and A Dangerous Method. He compelling portrayed Magneto’s inner anguish and pain in X-Men First Class. And his portrait of a sex addict in Shame is positively devastating. He’s an actor that can seemingly do everything.
Like I said: Breakout of the Year.
I already outlined my thoughts on Captain America in my Most Overrated list, so I’ll be brief here. My main disappointment with the film lies in the blandness of its central character–unlike equally notable film heroes such as Tony Stark, Peter Parker, or Bruce Wayne, there’s little to nothing to hang upon Steve Rogers’ shoulders in terms of actual personality or character idiosyncrasies. Without a basic hook, there’s only so far that the already generic proceedings can go.
Posted by Ben Brown at 6:06 PM
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Unlike a few of the other films on this list, I can actually sort of see why someone wouldn’t take to The Green Hornet. For one thing, it’s comedic style isn’t exactly for everyone, and at the end of the day, you’re either a Seth Rogen fan or you’re not. I personally happen to adore the guy, and found that his frat-boy comedy style translated splendidly with the trappings of the typical comic book movie.
What can I say, I loved pretty much everything about this movie, from Jay Chou as Kato, to Christoph Waltz as the villain, to the action-finale set at the newspaper, to the film’s irreverent and slightly sloppy edge. No, it wasn’t exactly as deep or innovative as The Dark Knight or even Spider-Man 2...but as pop entertainment, I found it quite fun.
Posted by Ben Brown at 7:20 PM
I like Contagion. I think it’s a well directed, well acted piece of studio filmmaking. But do I think it’s “a hugely gripping blockbuster?” Do I think it “offers the best thrills of 2011?” Do I think it’s “the most gut-grabbing non-zombie pandemic thriller” ever made?
Look, there’s a lot to like in the movie. Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard are all reliably strong, and Jude Law is as slimily compelling as he’s been in a long while. But the story itself? It’s just so...routine. Nothing about the epidemic narrative is especially ambitious or surprising. Director Steven Soderbergh injects an admirable chilliness to the proceedings, but even he can’t mask the film’s familiarity. Like I said: I like Contagion. I think it’s a well constructed example of a well trodden story model. And that’s all.
Posted by Ben Brown at 6:29 PM
Monday, January 2, 2012
As the year finally 2011 winds to an end, various critics and bloggers have all begun to post their various Top 10 and Best of lists. I’ve flirted with the idea many times, but only now have I decided to make the effort to actually contribute my own personal lists. So, with One Man Film’s Tangent's recent creation, the time seemed perfect to take the plunge. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll publish my various lists, ranking everything from Best Performances to Most Overrated Films. Hopefully it’ll make for interesting conversation.
6. Final Destination 5:
First things first: no, Final Destination 5 wasn’t exactly ‘good,’ at least not in the conventional sense. In all honesty, its quality is par for the course from past installments–the characters are wooden, the writing is stilted, and budget wise, the whole thing looks uncomfortably similar to a SciFy feature. Yet unlike 2009’s The Final Destination, it was also a surprisingly good time at the movies.
Director Steven Quale keeps his tongue planted firmly in his cheek throughout 5, and it helps–unlike the previous films, Final Destination 5 seems to be completely self-aware of its own inherent looniness. The methods of death are more ridiculous, as are the physical killings themselves–see the gymnastic scene for proof. Yet the film’s biggest surprise lies in its opening disaster sequence, wherein a bus full of teenagers are stuck on a collapsing bridge. It’s a visual marvel, and one of several pleasures in 5 that are by no means guilty.
Posted by Ben Brown at 9:30 PM