Monday, February 28, 2011

'The Academy Awards 2010: Yawn!'

'The Academy Awards 2010: Yawn!'

I am sure everyone can agree that it would take a miracle to fix the Oscar show and make it fast, exciting and fun. Until they take out Joe Schmo winning for "Best Animated Commercial Movie Under 2 Minutes" it will drag. So taking out clips speeds up the show huh? The problem is all these short film awards should be summarized in 15 minutes, filmed a week before and shown on the telecast. This is really not the number one problem with 2010's telecast. The real problem was the shortened, awkward sounding Best Song performances. It was also an exhausted looking and stiff James Franco as a co host. I loved Anne Hathaway, she was fun and charming but what the heck was that messing around with Hugh Jackman and singing that song? What a buzz killer that was and I admired what they were trying to do with the Billy Crystal/Bob Hope segment but it came off as creepy and a huge waste.

The shows best moments came early and then after that it got worse and worse. I loved the opening montage of Best Picture nominees that got our blood pumping. I like the Franco/Hathaway skit of mixing "Inception" with their own material. I liked that bit because of the addition of a game and funny Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman. The other great moment was of Kirk Douglas giving out the Best Supporting Actress award. Some might think it was sad and cruel to get Douglas out there but I admired it. The man is physically slowed down but still extremely aware and sharp. He was funny and after his segment there was not one thing to cheer about from this turkey of a show. The writing was bad, the energy was not even half there and this should be the last time Franco and Hathaway host.

There were some good, smaller moments like the banter between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. I also thought that Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Laurence looked beautiful, hot, breathtaking, you name it. I also thought Bullock was a delight kidding with the nominated Best Actors as she introduced them. Though that was pretty much it for the fun and excitement. This was a show that was horribly produced, stiff and laughably bad at times. Why are we not celebrating film more, showing clips, maybe showing the past work of nominated people. I had to wait a very long time until the very funny "Jimmy Kimmel Show" before I had any fun.

The other thing I found troubling, to me, is that "The King's Speech", though a great movie, is truly not the Best Picture of 2010. Don't get me wrong, I love that movie but years from now I am afraid no one will remember this as one of the truly best movies. If we are moving towards a youth movement this movie winning has set us back. Again I love this movie but "The Social Network" is a movie that will stand the test of time much more effectively. "The King's Speech" is wonderful and I would love to watch it again.

The only thing is that the movie will fall into a group of movies no one has on their favorites list and that have lost their timeliness. Movies that won in the past like "Gandhi", "The Last Emperor", "Out of Africa" and "Shakespeare in Love" have been forgotten and pushed to the mediocre pile. "The King's Speech" is better than everyone of those movies but it will not be considered one of the best movies ever. "The Social Network" will be culturally relevant and even greater in 20 or 30 years. This is 2010 and we have to get more hip and up to date. "Black Swan", "Winter's Bone" and "Inception" are all movies that are hipper, more relevant and better than "The King's Speech" and will stand the test of time more effectively.

Sorry to be a jerk to those of you who love "The King's Speech" but I think my take on this will ring true years from now. Now to better things like some of the speeches from all the winners. Melissa Leo's speech was real and it came from what she truly is as a person. She is not phony, her speech was fresh and spontaneous and Kirk Douglas added to the fun. I liked Bale's speech, except for forgetting his wife's name, and what he said about not swearing like Leo was very funny. I was truly touched by Natalie Portman's and Colin Firth's speeches. Both of their speeches were from the heart, simply beautiful and eloquent.

I loved that "The Social Network" won for Best Score and Editing and that "Inception" won for cinematography. I was not happy with "Toy Story 3" winning Best Animated Film because "How To Train Your Dragon" and even more so "The Illusionist" were much better. I think it is time to stop giving this award blindly to Pixar movies, they are not all the best. So there was not a lot of excitement at all during most of this snooze fest. The one brilliant laugh and joke involved Mark Wahlberg and James Franco's grandmother and that is truly sad. There has to be new producers, a long talk about making this show more alive and spontaneous and please find an original host. There hasn't been a truly outstanding host since Billy Crystal. My suggestion is to find someone like a Tom Hanks to host for Hanks reminds me a little of Bob Hope or maybe Jimmy Kimmel. All I know is that Hanks and Kimmel were a true delight on Kimmel's show late after the awards and they were funny and smart. Jimmy Kimmel knew how to put on a show and I hope the Academy stayed up late to check it out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

'2010: My Best and Worst Movies of the Year''

'2010: My Best and Worst Movies of the Year'

It is not a good sign when it is hard for me to come up with a top 25 list. I usually have a problem narrowing down the list of great movies to just 25. I counted up my great movies and it barely came to 25. This year I had a tough time finding ten movies that will be with me forever, that I found were the best of the best. The biggest test the movies had to pass were could I see these movies over and over and still love them? Also would these movies be just as fun and relevant 30 years from now? I only gave five movies my highest rating (4 stars). Either I am getting tougher or the movies aren't as great. The star ratings are just a guide so there were many movies I loved and I still have a list of 25. This was a strong year for documentaries and every year there are more great ones. I will list my five favorite documentaries of the year (all amazing!) and then continue with my top 20. At any point this list can change for I have to still see numerous movies I missed that didn't make my deadline. Movies like "Carlos", "Mesrine", "Dogtooth" and "Fish Tank" were on some best lists but they came out on DVD too late for me. I enjoyed many movies this past year and I am not really saying it was a bad year, just a strangely quiet year. Even with the plethora of super hero movies, including the terrible and cheesy looking "Green Lantern" and "Captain America", 2011 looks more promising. I did find two new trends in 2010, one that disturbs me and one that makes me happy.

Did we not learn from 1982 through 1983 that you can only milk the 3D phenomenon so much before it becomes old. "Spacehunter", "Metalstorm", "Comin' At Ya", are you old enough to remember those movies? They were all filmed and presented in 3D and they were all gimmick and very bad acting. Granted, today's technology is better and when a movie now is really shot in 3D it can be breathtaking. I love "Avatar" a lot and have great affection for it but I also curse it in a big way. With it's huge success now every moron wants his movie in 3D. The real shame of it is 95% of the 3D movies in 2010 were shot in 2D and then transferred to 3D. This only makes the movie harder to see and the screen dark, dirty and blurred. There are only so many times you can try to convince the people that it is sunny and 70 degrees out when it is actually snowing and 25. In other words, paying an extra surcharge for a fake 3D is only going to last until people catch on that the movie isn't real 3D. 3D is awesome and great for movies like "Avatar" but I haven't seen a 3D movie half as good as that one since. Actually the best movies to see in 3D are animated movies because the picture won't get as cloudy. I know there are new 3D television sets coming out but except for a special movie I think this 2D to 3D transfer will die out just like the 80's 3D fiasco did.

On the positive side, while I find the major Hollywood blockbusters getting lamer, the small independent film scene is getting stronger. There were a lot of great movies that used the power of words to tell their story. Usually Hollywood finds a gimmick like super hero movies, horror movies, action movies and attach stars and then write the story. This makes most of those movies horribly written and shallow. There were many strong, low budget movies and documentaries that overall were more successful then the big movies. Only ten of my top 25 are big budget movies and some of those had middling budgets. There were really only three movies on my main list that were A budget movies. In the past years there were way more action, horror movies and comedies that had huge budgets and that I also loved. The gargantuan blockbusters don't have to be that bad. I remember in 2002 when the super big budget Steven Spielberg movie "Minority Report" was my pick for best movie of that year. These movies can have brains, for example, look at "Inception" which was brilliantly written. It was a huge, big budget movie that appealed to grown ups because it actually had a story and you had to think. I love movies that are big and mindless fun but only when they actually show some care and heart. I was happy that I saw so many small, wonderful movies this year full of great writing and acting. I was always a writer type of person as opposed to a director type person. There were many wonderfully written movies that to me point to a promising future.

Now I will start with the bad movies of 2010 and get them out of the way.

Bad Movies of 2010

1.) Happy Tears

Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn

Here is the opposite example of a low budget movie with bad writing instead of good. I forgot to mention the pretentious jack ass writer that writes crap like this and gives the independent film scene a bad name.

2.) Remember Me

Robert Pattinson, Chris Cooper

Any movie that uses the tragedy of 9/11 as your twist ending gimmick is tasteless and very stupid.

3.) Repo Men

Forrest Whitaker, Jude Law

This is an ugly, nasty, violent and unimaginative movie where the director watched too many Kubrick movies.

4.) A Nightmare on Elm Street

Jackie Earle Haley

Why remake an iconic if somewhat over rated horror original when every age in your audience saw the original? This movie is very annoying and the sound effects are like nails on a... oh never mind.

5.) Harry Brown

Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer

Michael Caine ripping off Charles Bronson's "Death Wish"? Really? Really?! This is another nasty and violent turkey.

6.) MacGruber

Will Forte, Ryan Phillipe

Did anyone from SNL get the memo that almost all movie adaptations from the show suck except for a select few? You know you are in trouble when a pro wrestler gives the best performance.

7.) The A Team

Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper

More like "The F Team".

8.) The Killer Inside Me

Casey Affleck

Hey, another nasty and vioelent movie about a serial killer. This movie is torture to sit through and I swear it seemed like the movie was 5 hours long.

9.) Jonah Hex

Josh Brolin, Megan Fox

The screen is dingy, dark and dirty, the performances are terrible and I couldn't understand what anyone was saying. When I say performances I actually mean that Megan Fox sucked.

10.) Twilight: Eclipse

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Brood, sigh, gasp, scream, brood some more, pine, swoon and then brood again. There, now you don't have to see these movies. If you ever have insomnia pop in a DVD of any Twlight movie and fall fast asleep.

11.) Little Fockers

Robert Deniro, Ben Stiller

Can someone please tell Deniro to start really acting again and stop mugging? So you take your wife, two kids ages 6 and 8 to see this movie on family night and sit through penis jokes. Yay!

12.) Country Song

Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw

Have you heard that country song where the man lost his truck, his dog and his wife and then saw the movie "Country Strong and actually felt worse?

The Ten Worst Movies of 2010

10.) Eat, Pray, Love
Director: Ryan Murphy Julia Roberts

I wouldn't mind following this narcissistic and vain woman on her journey no one really cares about if the writing wasn't so bad and shallow.

9.) The Tourist

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

This is such a lazy movie and Johnny Depp looks lost and bored. The film makers threw in a beautiful Angelina Jolie (who is actually good here) and breathtaking locations and forgot a story that made sense or even holds your attention for 5 minutes.

8.) Robin Hood

Director: Ridley Scott Russell Crowe

This is Scott's worst movie and one of the dullest, darkest and most pretentious Robin Hood movies I could imagine. There is not one moment where I had fun or was interested.

7.) Clash of the Titans

Director: Louis Leterrier

With this and "Troy" why doesn't anyone know how to transfer the magic and wonder of Greek Mythology to the big screen? Here is one of those 3D transfers that is dark, dull and pretentious. I am not joking when I tell you that at times I couldn't see anything on screen.

6.) Burlesque

Director: Steve Antin Christina Aguilerra, Cher

This makes "Showgirls" look like "Gone With the Wind", enough said.

5.) Cop Out

Director: Kevin Smith Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan

What was Kevin Smith thinking? Was he trying to make a cop movie spoof (not funny) or was he trying to do a "Lethal Weapon" homage (embarrassing). Not many actors have wanted me to walk out of a theatre like Morgan made me feel like doing.

4.) Sex and the City 2

Director: Michael Patrick King

I actually liked the first movie even though I wasn't a fan of the show but I can't defend this one. I have never spent 2 plus excruciating hours with such vain and arrogant bores in my life.

3.) The Killers

Director: Robert Luketic Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher

Kutcher comes off like Laurence Olivier compared to Heigl here in this insipid, lazy, laugh free, crude action comedy. Everything looks like it was filmed on a sound stage.

2.) The Bounty Hunter

Director: Andy Tennant Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston

This is an obnoxious, clumsy, stupid and laugh free exercise in vanity. Butler is terrible here and Aniston again looks bored, mad and uninterested. Did Aniston kill her agent's dog or something? The man gives her such desperate crap to be in.

1. The Last Airbender

Director: M Night Shymalan Dev Patel

Ugh!! This is the bottom of the barrel for the director, 3D, writing, action, adventure, fantasy. This is like "Howard the Duck" bad, I mean this is 1984 "Dune" bad. This is an incomprehensible, crude, bleak, blurry mess that has no charm, bad acting, bad music and the ugliest cinematography in history. This is easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my lifetime.

The Fairly Good Movies for a Rainy Day

1.) From Paris With Love
John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

2.) Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightening Thief

3.) The Greatest

Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon

4.) The Joneses

Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard

5.) The Losers

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Jason Patric

6.) Grown Ups

Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James

7.) Get Low

Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black

8.) Takers

Matt Dillon, Idris Elba

9.) The Switch

Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston

10.) I'm Still There

Joaquin Phoenix

11.) Jack Goes Boating

Patrick Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan

12.) Stone

Robert Deniro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich

13.) The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Noomi Rapace. The weakest one in the series

14.) Faster

Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton

15.) Love and Other Drugs

Director:Edward Zwick
Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

16.) Biutiful

Javier Bardem

The Good Movies of 2010

1.) Youth in Revolt

Director: Miguel Arteta
Michael Cera, Ray Liotta

2.) The Book of Eli

Directors: Allan and Albert Hughes
Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman

3.) Frozen An unique and fun horror thriller.

4.) Shutter Island

Director: Martin Scorcese
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo

5.) Alice in Wonderland

Director: Tim Burton
Mia Warsikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter

6.) Green Zone

Director: Paul Greengrass
Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear

7.) Diary of a Wimpy Kid

8.) City Island

Andy Garcia, Juliana Margulies

9.) Chloe

Director: Atom Egoyan
Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore

10.) Eclipse

Ciaran Hinds

11.) Hot Tub Time Machine

John Cusack

12.) Date Night

Steve Carell, Tina Fey. Carell and Fey have great chemistry!

13.) When You're Strange (Documentary)

Jim Morrison

14.) Kick-Ass

Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson

15.) Iron Man 2

Director: Jon Favreau
Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke

16.) Please Give

Director: Nicole Holofcener
Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt

17.) Letters To Juliet

Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave

18.) Holly Rollers

Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha

19.) Get Him to the Greek

Russell Brand, Jonah Hill

20.) Ondine

Colin Farrell

21.) The Karate Kid

Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson

22.) Toy Story 3

23.) I Am Love

Tilda Swinton

24.) Knight and Day

Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz

25.) The Girl Who Played With Fire

Noomi Rapace

26.) Despicable Me

27.) Salt

Angelina Jolie

28.) Countdown to Zero (Documentary)

29.) Dinner For Schmucks

Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd

30.) The Other Guys

Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton

31.) Cairo Time

Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig

32.) Lebanon

33.) The Expendables

Director: Sylvester Stallone

34.) The Last Exorcism

35.) The American

George Clooney

36.) Machete

Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez

37.) Going the Distance

Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day

38.) Never Let Me Go

Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield

39.) The Town

Director: Ben Affleck
Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner

40.) Catfish

41.) Let Me In

Chloe Grace Moretz, Codi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins

42.) The Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Animated)

43.) It's Kind of a Funny Story

Directors: Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden
Zach Galfiniakis

44.) Hereafter

Director: Clint Eastwood
Matt Damon

45.) Conviction

Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver

46.) Paranormal Activity 2

47.) Monsters

48.) 127 Hours

Director: Danny Boyle
James Franco

49.) For Colored Girls

Director: Tyler Perry
Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson

50.) Fair Game

Naomi Watts, Sean Penn

51.) Unstoppable

Director: Tony Scott
Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson

52.) Tangled (Animated)

53.) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

54.) Night Catches Us

Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie

55.) Tron: Legacy

Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen

56.) Casino Jack

Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper

Great Movies of 2010

1.) True Grit

Directors: Ethan and Joel Coen
Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon

Steinfeld makes this movie great with her central, gritty and mature performance that could win an Oscar. The Coens have made a solid and very well made Western which is also not their best. On a scale between 1 and 10 on the Coen's list of great movies this is a 5.

2.) Morning Glory

Director: Roger Michell
Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton

This movie nails the phoniness of television morning talk shows wonderfully. Rachel McAdams is a life force in the lead role and gives a charming, energetic performance.

3.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1

Director: David Yates

I can't wait to see the conclusion to Part 1 of a two part finale of the Harry Potter series. This is one of my favorite movies in the series and I can't wait till it gets really dark and scary.

4.) Nowhere Boy

Director: Sam Taylor Wood
Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne Marie Duff

This is a fun and fascinating portrait of a young John Lennon. Aaron Johnson does a great job not falling in the impersonation trap and Anne Marie Duff is great as his birth mother.

5.) Ghost Writer

Director: Roman Polanski
Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams

This unfolds like a great crime novel and mystery and no one can make a novel like movie as can Polanski. This is a really well written and quietly effective thriller with great performances and meticulous direction.

6.) Solitary Man

Directors: Brian Koppelman and David Levien
Michael Douglas, Jesse Eisenberg, Susan Sarandon

A great character study with Michael Douglas's best performances in ages. He has the best role in a lifetime for him to chew on some scenery and he is fun to watch here.

7.) Animal Kingdom

Director: David Michod
Jackie Weaver, Guy Pearce, Joe Edgerton

This unique and engrossing Australian crime picture has a lot of character and charisma. The characters and their situations are small but all the characters are vicious and violent criminals. Though no one is as scary, twisted or as effective as Jackie Weaver playing the matriarch of this family. She reminds me of the Wicked Witch.

8.) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Director: Edgar Wright
Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

This comic book adaptation is one of the most refreshing and original movies I have seen in many summer movie seasons. I love the energy of this movie and I laughed a lot, this is creative film making at it's best.

9.) Easy A

Director: Will Gluck
Emma Stone, Penn Badgely, Amanda Bynes

This is in the great tradition of the old John Hughes classics. Emma Stone is completely wonderful and funny in the lead role and she proves she can carry any movie. This is different for a high school movie because it is smart and actually knows it's subject. This is actually a better movie than "Mean Girls".

10.) Waking Sleeping Beauty

Director: Don Hahn

This fascinating and fun documentary on how Walt Disney turned a dark moment in their animation department and turned it into magic. If you love the resurgence of the great Disney animated movies of the late 80's, early 90's you will love this. The movie is really great when going over all the back stabbing moments that went on behind the scenes.

My Top 25 Plus One

Here is my list of my 25 favorite movies of 2010. I am also adding to my list a HBO movie that if released in theatres could be anywhere on my top ten list:

Temple Grandin

Director: Mick Jackson
Claire Danes, David Strathairn

This is a fascinating real life story of Dr. Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who is now one of the top scientists in the Animal Husbandry field. Claire Danes gives a spellbinding performance that is equal to Portman or Bening.

25.) Restrepo

Directors: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

This gritty and powerful documentary follows a platoon in one of the deadliest locations in Afghanistan. The movie just keeps growing in suspense and finally explodes.

24.) Waiting For Superman

Director: Davis Guggenheim

This sobering and powerful documentary is similiar to "Restrepo" and is a must see and important movie about the failure of our city's school system.

23.) Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Directors Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg

I found a new respect for Rivers here with this funny and great time at the movies. Joan Rivers is more fascinating than most characters in fiction films. The movie actually had me on the edge of my seat glued to the screen.

22.) Exit Through the Gift Shop

Director: Banksy

This documentary which actually might be a fake, thus being a mocumentary, is a lot of fun. The artist Banksy, if he is real, is an elusive figure who might be the biggest scam artist in the World. This should win Best Documentary at the Oscars because my next pick wasn't even nominated!

21.) The Pat Tillman Story

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

This is a powerful documentary that made me angry, at my Country, my Government and our war machine. This is a very engrossing movie that centers on the Tillman family especially Richard, his brother. Richard is also a fascinating person and his family's reaction to the travesty that happened to his brother is powerful. What is really sad is how engaging, sweet, classy and wonderful a person Pat was.

20.) Greenberg

Director: Noah Baumbach
Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig

A very smart, funny and perceptive screenplay makes this movie a pleasure to listen to. It also has Ben Stiller's best performance in a movie and a star making performance by Great Gerwig. The movie is funny and surprisingly contains moments of poignancy and great drama.

19.) How To Train Your Dragon

Directors: Dean Deblois and Chris Sanders

When I mentioned before how animated movies looked so much better in 3D this wonderful movie and the "Legends of the Guardian" were what I was talking about. The flying sequences here, as they were to a lesser degree in Owls, rival that of "Avatar".

18.) A Prophet

Director: Jacques Audiard
Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup

This movie is true to it's hype as "The Godfather" of prison movies. The journey and transformation of lead character Malik from scared prisoner to wise, hardened criminal is like that of Michael Corleone. This is an engrossing movie that is well written, tense and multi layered.

17.) Cyrus

Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei

This is my kind of comedy, twisted, black and hilarious. John C. Reilly gives a wonderful performance from the first moment till the end. He is one of our greatest comic actors and this is coming from an actor more well known for his dramas. I love this warped movie for it is highly original and very smart.

16.) Another Year
Director: Mike Leigh

Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen

This is another wonderful slice of life drama from Mike Leigh whose free, improvisational style makes his movies realistic. Lesley Manville gives an Oscar caliber performance in a go for broke style. I love how the movie unfolds like life with no major plot developments but just with real, memorable people and real emotions.

15.) Buried

Director: Rodrigo Cortes
Ryan Reynolds

This is a fast, intense and fun joy ride with Ryan Reynolds best performance of his career. This movie is just Reynolds buried alive underground in a coffin with only a cell phone that is dying and a lighter. This is not for people who are claustrophobic like me. This is a white knuckle thriller that is also funny and over before you know it. This is how fun a thriller should be!

14.) The Illusionist

Director: Sylvain Chomet

This is clearly the best animated movie of 2010 and it is a total charmer. I finally checked out my first Tati film last week and this is definitely a love letter to Tati. This is not a noisy, obnoxious animated film like most, it is quiet, touching and funny with a breathtaking score. This reminds me of a very great, Chaplinesque silent film.

13.) Rabbit Hole

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Diane Wiest

This heartbreaking movie has two wonderful performances by Kidman and Eckhart as grieving parents who have just lost a child. There are scenes of quiet power leavened with great humor and finally the movie is somehow uplifting. There are no false moments in any of the performances and there is great supporting turns by Wiest and newcomer Miles Teller.

12.) Somewhere

Director: Sofia Coppola
Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning

I don't know how to explain this movie but it had a haunting effect on me. Maybe because I can identify with the lead character and his feelings of loss and direction. This is a spare, touching and quiet movie and it's look at a father and daughter relationship is real. Words can't explain how this movie made me feel. I just know I couldn't shake it off for a few days. Please don't get angry at me if you see this and don't get it, it is not for everybody and not as great as "Lost in Translation". I also think that Sofia Coppola is the real deal and all her movies are alive and real.

10 A.) The King's Speech

Director: Tom Hooper
Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter

This was a tough choice between this movie and my next choice so this makes my top ten also. "The King's Speech" hit home to me and probably to anyone who has a hard time speaking in public. I am not a huge costume drama person so my placing of this movie is a huge accomplishment. Colin Firth is of course amazing but Rush is every bit his equal. The conclusion of this movie choked me up and touched me, inspired me. I just wish the back stage politics material dealing with the monarchy and war weren't so stiff and dull. The movie soars more when it deals with the King and his battle with his speech impediment.

10.) Red Riding Trilogy

1974 Director: Julian Jarrold
1980 Director: James Marsh
1983 Director: Anand Tucker

1974: Andrew Garfield, David Morrisey
1980: Paddy Considine, James Fox
1983: David Morrisey, Mark Addy

This film trilogy is a great way to spend six hours as you drink a bottle of wine and eat your favorite dinner and you soak it all in. This is a major achievement and if you like mysteries and crime sagas you will absolutely love this. This is a serial killer movie and there are devastating moments but this is not trash and it is certainly powerful and entertaining. It is very much played out like a mini series but this is the best set of crime movies of the year and it puts movies like "The Town" to shame. This kind of gave me the same thrill as watching all "Godfather" movies. But this is more complete because all three films are mini masterpieces and the third one is better than "Godfather III". There is never a lull or dull moment throughout all three movies.

9.) The Crazies

Director: Breck Eisner
Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell

This is the best horror movie I have seen in quite a long time. It is also possibly one of the best remakes of a bad movie ever made. This is how you do it, remake weak movies and not great or classic ones. The original Romero Crazies was dull, laughable and had such bad acting and no thrills. This remake has a perfect, creepy tone, two bravura, classic set pieces that made me jump and great acting. This is a thrill ride that never stops and like all horror classics it glides by and scares the crap out of you.

8.) The Fighter

Director: David O'Russell
Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams

At first I found this movie to be a good time but didn't really see greatness. The second time I even enjoyed it more and found it to be grand, old fashioned entertainment that is a lot of fun. I could see this movie again and again and that makes it worthy for my top ten, it passed my top ten test. The performances are fun and larger than life and the characters are colorful and captivating. Mark Wahlberg gives a great, understated performance surrounded by high energy performances. Bale is perfect and Leo and Adams dissapear into their roles. The boxing scenes are realistic and the fun is infectious and those sisters are priceless.

7.) The Kids Are All Right

Director: Lisa Chodolenko
Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo

This is an extremely well written movie with one of the most believable families I have seen depicted on screen. This movie was even better the second time and I love the humor and realism. Annette Bening is truly wonderful as the tough, wine drinking but loving head of the family. I think Julianne Moore is even better giving a funny, sexy and totally charming performance. Her scenes with Mark Ruffalo are hilarious and my favorite moments. This movie is highly entertaining, funny and finally touching. This is a perfect blend of great writing mixed with great performances.

6.) Winter's Bone

Director: Debra Granik
Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes

I didn't get the full power and outstanding film making talent until I watched this movie a second time at home. There I could soak in the perfect atmosphere of a real and lived in setting. Jennifer Lawrence gives one of the best debut, star making performances I have seen in ages. She is matched by a powerfully scary and intense performance by John Hawkes. I swear if you didn't tell me this movie was real I would have thought it was a documentary. This is like a great book you can't put down, it is a movie that feels like it is about to explode. I actually think if I saw this movie many more times it could shoot up to number 1 on this list.

5.) The Runaways

Director: Floria Sigismondi
Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon

Do you ever feel that a movie was meant just for you and that no one else got it? I think that "The Runaways" is one of the best movies about a musical group or singer. I might be in the minority here but this movie to me is completely flawless. It has great music, a perfect recreation of the 70's (one of the best I have seen) and one of my favorite perfromances by an actress. Dakota Fanning is the real star here, this is not about Joan Jett or really about The Runaways but about Cherie Curie. Fanning is amazing and gives a performance that might be my favorite next to Natalie Portman. Also great is Michael Shannon as the band's manager. I am a huge Cherie Curie fan ( she is my facebook friend!) and I love this movie. I probably love this movie more than anybody but I do know Dakota Fanning gives a performance just as great as anyone in 2010 so why was she snubbed?

4.) Inception

Director: Christopher Nolan
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, Michael Caine

This is that rare thinking man's action movie that is brain candy and it was like opening presents on Christmas day. This is a movie you could watch over and over again and get new meaning every time. This reminds me of one of my favorite brain twisters "12 Monkeys". The movie is brilliant and I was always fascinated by dreams and what they all mean, how they come about. This movie is spellbinding, fun, entertaining and full of wonder with some breathtaking cinematography and special effects. This is one of the most beautiful movies to look at and one of the smartest movies I have seen come out in the summer months.

3.) Blue Valentine

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling

This is the best movie I have seen about marriage with great performances and realistic power. Michelle Williams is one of our top five actresses today and her performance is magic here. I could watch her performance here multiple times and it would always move me. Ryan Gosling, who is also one of our top 5 actors today is equally great here. This feels like we are eavesdropping on a real marriage dealing with real people. The movie is dark, bleak at times but it is a powerful experience I will never forget.

2.) Black Swan

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey

This is a fever dream of a movie that builds and builds with suspense until it finally explodes in a perfect ending. This is a movie that could have gone so wrong in so many ways. This could have come off as laughable and dumb but it becomes one of the most solid thrillers in years. Natalie Portman's performance is pure hard work, dedication and magic. In the wrong hands this could have been a weak performance. This movie plays mind games with you but it always plays fair and never makes a wrong move. This is a flawless thriller and Aronofsky takes his time, notches up the intensity little by little and finally delivers a masterpiece. This is breathtaking and haunting film making.

1.) The Social Network

Director: David Fincher
Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer
Justin Timberlake

When we look back thirty years from now and want to pick movies that defined our current culture, this is the movie of 2010 that will make the most impact. This is a movie with one of the best written and smartest screenplays of any decade. David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin have done a rare thing, make a thrilling movie out of words instead of action. This is a movie full of rapid fire dialogue and the story is fascinating. I have heard complaints that this movie was cold and cynical but I think facebook can sometimes be cruel and cold. So what you have here is a movie that knows it's subject and delves deeply into it with truth and power. Jesse Eisneberg gives an amazing performance, clearly his best, going against type. David Fincher is my favorite director right now and he knows how to shoot a movie with no wasted moments. I didn't find any flaws in this movie and I was totally enthralled from the first moment to the last. I have seen the movie three times and I can't wait to see it again! This belongs with "All the President's Men", "Do The Right Thing" and Fincher's own "Zodiac" as movies that define their decade.

Thins to leave you with:

Best score: The Social Network
Best Editing: The Social Network
Best Trailer: The Social Network and right behind it Blue Valentine
Best on screen couple: Steve Carell and Tina Fey on comedy side, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling on drama side.
Best lesbian make out scene? I guess I have to go with Black Swan over Kids Are All Right, it was really close though!

And finally Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman.
This is the best crop of actresses I have seen in any time in Hollywood history. So that is 2010 and I will now continue my search for the next great movie of 2011 and so far not so good but I know I will have a great top 25 list at this time next year.

'The Snavely Awards 2010'

'The Snavely Awards 2010'

While the movies in 2010 were sometimes lacking in greatness and originality you can always count on great acting any year. 2010 was another strong year for actors, new and old, who lit a fire on the big screen. The Snavely Awards are my ideal of showcasing the actors that get over looked during the awards season or what I sometimes call the popularity contest. Some of these names I have on my list you have not heard of being mentioned at the Oscars or the Golden Globes. I am here to spotlight those actors that don't get the major push. For example one of my awards goes to an actress that gave a performance as great as Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman or Annette Bening. On my list I usually write down the actors that gave great performances and then from that list pick my top few favorites. Usually I will not pick a Best Actor or Actress but will have a top two or three. Sometimes I don't believe there is just one best anything but on occasion I will pick a number one if it is miles ahead of everyone else. I will also give you names of actors on their way up to stardom and new faces to look for that could make a big impact soon. Without further ado here is my Snavely Awards for 2010.

Worst Acting of 2010

1.) Rip Torn-Happy Tears

It is not all Torn's fault but his depiction of an elderly man with dementia is embarrassing.

2.) Everyone in Clash of the Titans

When did this story demand tenth rate Shakespeare in the Park acting

3.) Katherine Heigl-The Killers

Run around, scream, yell, scream, run around and act like a buffoon on speed, that is Heigl's acting plan in this turkey.

4.) Robert Pattinson-Remember Me, Twilight movies

Brood, simper, brood, scowl, pose like a model. That is Pattinson's acting plan in two losers. Kristen Stewart gets slammed for her acting in Twlight? Really? Really?!

Worst Actress and Actor of 2010:

Male-Tracy Morgan-Cop Out, Death at a Funeral

Maybe I am the only one but I am getting tired of Morgan's over the top mugging and over acting and screaming. He can be very good like on SNL but I am afraid he ruined "30 Rock" for me and I don't watch it anymore. In "Cop Out" I wanted to punch him in the face.

Female-Megan Fox-Jonah Hex

Looks can only get you so far and I don't find Megan Fox that hot anyway. In "Jonah Hex" I don't know who taught her a Southern accent but her lazy drawl and lazy, stiff acting made me fall asleep.

Future Stars according to Mr. Snavely:

1.) Amber Heard-The Joneses
2.) Jeffrey Dean Morgan-The Losers
3.) Lucas Black-Get Low
4.) Maricel Alvarez-Biutiful
5.) Amanda Seyfried-Dear John, Chloe, Letters to Juliet, 2011's Red Riding Hood
6.) Russell Brand-Get Him To the Greek, 2011's Arthur
7.) Jonah Hill-Cyrus, Get Him to the Greek
8.) Jaden Smith-Karate Kid
9.) Noomi Rapace-Girl Who Played With Fire, Kicked Hornet's Nest, With Dragon Tattoo
10.) Rebecca Hall-The Town
11.) Emma Roberts-Valentine's Day, It's Kind of a Funny Story
12.) Bryce Dallas Howard-Hereafter
13.) Olivia Wilde-Tron:Legacy, TV's House, 2011's Cowboys and Aliens

_____Your Table Is Ready: Actors With Many Nominations in Their Future:

1.) Carey Mulligan-The Greatest, Never Let Me Go-I sang the praises of the beautiful Carey Mulligan with a once in a lifetime performance in "An Education". In 2010 she made a maudlin "The Greatest" greater and was haunting in "Never Let Me Go".

2.) Mia Wasikowska-The Kids Are All Right

In Kids, Mia was in a lot of ways the backbone of the movie and she is a natural talent. She played a believable teenager and held her own with Moore and Bening. Her Alice in "Alice in Wonderland" was sweet and captivating, holding that film together.

3.) Chloe Grace Moretz-Kick-Ass, Let Me In

Chloe reminds me of Jodie Foster with her intelligence, grace and energy. She can be sweet and haunting in "Let Me In" and can steal a movie and bring energy to it like she did in "Kick-Ass". Her wise beyond her years delivery and intelligence make her a talented and very beautiful actress.

4.) Kerry Washington-Night Catches Us, For Colored Girls

I think Washington is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen on the movie screen. She is also captivating and a very fine actress who can play any type of role. In "Night Catches Us" she gives a quiet, measured and Oscar caliber performance. She also stands out in a very small role in "For Colored Girls" and she gives the best performance in it.

5.) Greta Gerwig-Greenberg

Actually Gerwig was so great as Ben Stiller's love interest in "Greenberg" I could have seen her take a spot in the 5 Oscar nominated actress list. Gerwig is a tall, unique beauty who comes off like a regular every day woman you could meet in real life. She is the perfect choice for the Liza Minelli role in 2011's remake of "Arthur".

6.) Jennifer Lawrence-Winter's Bone

Talk about an actress making a huge impact! Jennifer Lawrence is amazing as a back woods woman trying to find her father in a very scary setting. She is a natural and makes every acting choice in this movie effortless.

7.) Jackie Weaver-Animal Kingdom

Weaver's Oscar nomination was no fluke for her subtly scary crime matriarch is as frightening as Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs". She can be so sweet in certain scenes but turn your back on her and she will stab you in the back.

8.) Emma Stone-Easy A

I have such a crush on Emma Stone, that red hair, that voice and her great sense of humor and comic timing. Emma is beautiful, different, funny and charming and she will be a major star right away! She reminds me of Molly Ringwald with her performance in "Easy A" which resembles a John Hughes movie but Stone is a much better actress.

9.) Ryan Reynolds-Buried

I have slammed a lot of Ryan Reynolds movies and a lot of times I think he is obnoxious. While watching "Buried", where he was trapped in a coffin buried underground, I was very impressed. He is funnier than he has ever been but also his dramatic acting in this movie is powerful.

10.) 11.) Rooney Mara-The Social Network
Justin Timberlake-The Social Network

I was amazed by how great and captivating Timberlake was in Network. I knew he was very funny on SNL but I didn't know he could carry a movie in a supporting role. Also Mara, in just one very short scene in Network, made a huge impact. No wonder she got the lead role in the Stieg Larssen trilogy remakes quickly.

12.) Aaron Johnson-Nowhere Boy

Johnson was great as a young John Lennon in the very solid "Nowhere Boy". It was a great performance because it wasn't an impression of Lennon, it was a natural and effective performance of a normal kid before he became an icon. He was also very effective as the lead in "Kick-Ass".

13.) Rachel McAdams-Morning Glory

I also have a huge crush on McAdams and in "Morning Glory" she reminded me of Holly Hunter in "Broadcast News" and that is great praise. Her energy, smile, charm, humor and beauty were captivating. When you upstage Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton you have arrived.

14.) Mila Kunis-Black Swan

Kunis is another crush of mine and it is not just because of the eyes or her exotic beauty. Mila Kunis has shown in the past that she is a great comic actress as she was in TV's "That 70's Show" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". In "Black Swan" she gives a great dramatic performance and the movie does not succeed without her.

15.) Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit

This young actress did what many young actresses would dream of, have a major lead and focus point in a movie with the names Bridges and Damon. Steinfeld is the real reason "True Grit" is getting major accolades. "True Grit" is a solid Western but not a great one and Steinfeld makes it amazing. What a mature, detailed and gritty performance. This is the kind of role that Anna Paquin rode to a surprise Oscar win for "The Piano". Do not be surprised if Steinfeld steals the award this year.

The Best Acting of 2010

Best Supporting Actors

1.) Susan Sarandon-The Greatest
2.) Ann Morgan Guilbert-Please Give
3.) Andrew Garfield-The Social Network

Andrew Garfield was equal to Jesse Eisneberg in this instant classic and he gets your immediate sympathy. Watch for Garfield to rise to stardom with the new "Spiderman" movie.

4.) Justin Timberlake-The Social Network
5.) Diane Wiest-Rabbit Hole

Wiest is a dependable and legendary actress who is amazing in small scenes but as always she makes a huge impact!

6.) Sam Rockwell-Conviction

I will sing the praise of Sam Rockwell until I am blue in the face. Deniro, Pacino, Depp, Bridges, I just mentioned actors that Rockwell is a great as.

7.) Mia Warsikowska-The Kids Are All Right

Best Acting in a Lead Role

1.) Chloe Grace Moretz-Kick-Ass
2.) Hilary Swank-Conviction

I am in love with Hilary Swank and I think it is because she is like that naturally beautiful blue collar woman with no vanity that you would love to spend time with. She is a natural for roles like the one in "Conviction".

3.) Kevin Spacey-Casino Jack

Again Spacey makes what is essentially a flawed movie and makes it that much better.

4.) Kerry Washington-Night Catches Us
5.) John C. Reilly-Cyrus

Reilly is becoming the go to guy for supporting characters that steal a movie and sometimes he is the lead actor and he knocks it out of the park. He is extremely funny in "Cyrus" and he never over does it, his line readings are as great as Vince Vaughn's.

6.) Emma Stone-Easy A
7.) Ryan Reynolds-Buried
8.) Aaron Johnson-Nowhere Boy
9.) Rachel McAdams-Morning Glory
10.) Matt Damon-True Grit

Matt Damon is amazing in everything he acts in from lead roles to supporting roles. He was equally great with a small, character part in "True Grit" as he was in a lead performance in "Green Zone".

11.) Rebecca Hall-Please Give, The Town

This beautiful and tall British actress is making quite a huge impression lately and her American accent is flawless. I see greater, bigger and more impactful performances right around the corner.

The Cream of the Crop: The Snavely Awards for Greatness in Acting for 2010

Best Supporting Performance (Male)

1.) Michael Shannon-The Runaways

This great Chicago based actor has been turning in bravura performances in everything from "Boardwalk Empire" to "Revolutionary Road" to his scary and powerful performance as a maniacal rock band manager in a new, rock movie classic.

2.) Bill Murray-Get Low

Murray is equal to Robert Duvall here and the performances carry the movie. Bill Murray is understated here, droll and very funny. He is getting better and better over the years and making a fun cameo in "Zombieland" adds to his iconic greatness.

3.) Jeremy Renner-The Town

Following his powerful and gritty performance in "The Hurt Locker", Renner has such a fierce energy and life force. He plays a small time crook so convincingly that with "The Town" and "Hurt Locker" you know he can play the hero or the bad guy.

4.) Niels Arestrup-A Prophet

I don't know why I don't see more of Arestrup but based on his powerful performance in "A Prophet" I think I will see more. His crime boss who is so powerful in prison he can get people killed on the outside is a revelation. He is fierce, mean and powerful and he is that classic, grizzled veteran actor that people don't know enough about.

5.) John Hawkes-Winter's Bone

John Hawkes is another great character actor that has been around a long time. You see him a lot and if you don't know the name you will recognize the face. Hawkes is super scary and at the same time strangely sweet in this crime movie and he can scare you just by staring a hole in you.

6.) Mark Ruffalo-The Kids Are All Right

One of my new favorite actors has been so solid and great in role after role but never gets the recognition. That has changed with his super laid back and sweet performance in this well written drama. In Kids, Ruffalo is sexy, funny, charming and naive in equal measure.

7.) Geoffrey Rush-The King's Speech

Without Rush's subtle and great performance, "The King's Speech" would not be as great and Colin Firth wouldn't have been as wonderful either. He is wry, funny, charming and is every bit as equally great as Firth is here.

8.) Christian Bale-The Fighter

Some critics say Bale's performance as Dicky Eklund is showy, over the top and melodramatic. If you see the real Dicky Eklund in the end credits you will realize that Bale is perfect and dead on. There is no possible way you can call his performance over rated!

9.) Jeff Bridges-True Grit

Bridges gives another dependable and great performance here and now the man is finally getting Snavely respect. The only thing is that Steinfeld is the only lead here and Bridges role is supporting. Bridges gives a fun, grizzled and charismatic performance as Rooster Cogburn.

These are the actors here I would pick equally as the best: Shannon, Bale, Rush, Hawkes and Ruffalo

Best Supporting Acting (Female)

1.) Jackie Weaver-Animal Kingdom
2.) Helena Bonham Carter-The King's Speech

Bonham Carter may seem to be on the sidelines during the movie especially when Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are so big. Still I find Carter to be funny and flawless as the King's wife. She plays her as a supporting woman that stands besides her husband instead of behind him.

3.) Mila Kunis-Black Swan
4.) Melissa Leo-The Fighter
5.) Amy Adams-The Fighter

Here are two extreme and opposite sides of acting by two beautiful and great actresses. Melissa Leo is a life force as a demanding and stubborn mother and her performance is showy but so real. I love actresses that go all out and bury themselves in a role becoming unrecognizable. Still Amy Adams gives a much different performance than she has ever given. Her performance is also so lived in and real but more subtle. She disappears into her role and I have never seen her play a tough woman ever. I am so used to her being sweet and daffy but here she is sexy, tough, hot and unique.

This is a small list but I have to say that Melissa Leo is the standout winner with Carter right behind because I love subtle performances by actors like Carter's

Best Acting in a Lead Role (Male)

1.) Robert Duvall-Get Low

Duvall here is the real reason that I enjoyed "Get Low" along with Bill Murray because the movie is hard to embrace for me. Duvall is great here as he was in "Tender Mercies" and his final speech is powerful and touching.

2.) Javier Bardem-Biutiful

Here is another case of a movie being hard to love but with a performance that makes the movie. Bardem's dying, criminal father is a tough role to play and Bardem nails it with his deep, expressive eyes and meticulous grace.

3.) James Franco-127 Hours

Franco's role here had to be impossible to do but he brings energy, vulnerability and pain to his brash hero. I have been a huge supporter of Franco since TV's "Freaks and Geeks" and I am impressed by his stardom and workaholic ambition.

4.) Michael Douglas-Solitary Man

Many movie goers have not seen this performance or movie and I urge everyone to watch it on DVD ASAP. This is Douglas's best performance since the original "Wall Street". He is rascally, vulgar, brash, funny and vulnerable. This movie is an actor's showcase and Douglas is amazing here and reminds us how great he can be. This reminds me of old vintage Jack Nicholson like performances and classic Douglas.

5.) Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network

Eisneberg gets knocked a lot for playing the same kind of role and giving the same kind of performance. I disagree but in Network I think he finally proves he can play any kind of role. Eisenberg usually plays the naive, good kid role but here his character can be a real jerk and Eisneberg nails it. What impressed me more is that Eisenberg made me like and actually care about this man. I admire Zuckenberg more and that is all because of Jesse.

6.) Colin Firth-The King's Speech

Colin Firth has been so great in romantic comedies like "Bridget Jones's Diary" amd "Love, Actually". He had also proved that he was on the cusp of a major Oscar for a dramatic turn in "A Single Man". In "The King's Speech" he gives his best performance and one of the best in years. He not only makes us feel for him and care for him but he also makes us stand up and cheer him. This is a touching, subtle and amazing performance that is flawless and beautiful.

7.) Mark Wahlberg-The Fighter

When I talk about loving subtle performances, Mark Wahlberg in "The Fighter" is the poster child for it. With all the crazy characters and performances around him he always stays grounded and becomes the sane voice of reason. Wahlberg does two great things here, makes us care and cheer for his hero and makes us totally believe his character is real.

8.) Aaron Eckhart-Rabbit Hole

Eckhart is every bit as equally great in "Rabbit Hole" as Kidman is. Both performances are quietly powerful but Eckhart has the trickier and less showy role. His sense of grief is palpable and his quiet anguish is flawlessly played.

9.) Ryan Gosling-Blue Valentine

I truly believe that Ryan Gosling is the future of Hollywood greatness in acting. He might be the best young actor working right now. This is another real and fascinating performance by Gosling. Playing one half of a marriage that has gone from loving to painful, Gosling is perfect. Like in "Half Nelson", he plays a real life blue collar man and even despite makeup for his balding husband we never sense Gosling is acting.

Clearly Colin Firth is the best hands down on this list but I think Gosling and Eisenberg are not that far behind.

Best Acting in a Lead Role (Female)

1.) Dakota Fanning-The Runaways

I am a big fan of Cherie Curie and the 1980's cult classic "Foxes" and Dakota Fanning is pure perfection as Curie. This is one of the most under rated and under appreciated performances ever on screen. If not for Natalie Portman in "Black Swan" this would be Fanning's year. Playing a real life rock star is very hard and Dakota is pure magic, powerful, vulnerable, sweet and naive and her transformation here is what great acting is all about.

2.) Greta Gerwig-Greenberg
3.) Jennifer Lawrence-Winter's Bone

What a great impression Lawrence makes here in "Winter's Bone"! She is a natural screen presence who in this movie has to be tough, mature and just tender enough to make us feel her love for family. This is a performance that can easily catapault Lawrence into a very sought after actress. Here performance is flawless and extremely captivating.

4.) Julianne Moore-The Kids Are All Right
5.) Annette Bening-The Kids Are All Right

Moore and Bening make such a believable and real life couple and it is a complete joy to watch both actresses at the top of their form. I love Bening for she is grounded and motherly but very sexy also. I actually think Moore gives the slightly better performance and makes a bigger impact. The scenes with Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo are some of my favorite scenes. Both actresses are funny, touching, magical and fun to watch. Bening gives one of her best performances by under playing the role and Moore defintely gives her best performance.

6.) Natalie Portman-Black Swan

Natalie is probably my favorite actress right now and I am proud and fascinated by her performance here. Not only shedding pounds and training hard to play a ballerina but always, with the movie, staying grounded and not unraveling into a mess. This is a dedicated acting job and Portman should be rewarded. This is like Deniro's transformation in "Raging Bull". The movie really lives or dies with Natalie and she has given a flawless, meticulous and powerful performance with grace.

7.) Claire Danes-Temple Grandin

Yes, Claire Danes was in a made for television, HBO movie "Temple Grandin" but the movie and her performance are greater than almost anything on the big screen in 2010. This is a performance where an actress totally disappears into her role. Her perfromance as the autistic Temple is ten times better and more believable than Dustin Hoffman's in "Rain Man". Danes is magical in making us embrace a character that is not too easy to embrace and she is flawless.

8.) Nicole Kidman-Rabbit Hole

Even with the bad press I believe this is Nicole Kidman's most powerful and best performance so far. Her grieving mother has many powerful scenes and Kidman handles them with beauty and grace. This is the most Kidman has been asked to express herself in a movie and I think she is amazing and true.

9.) Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit

Stinfeld belongs in the Best Actress category because she has the main role and without her "True Grit" is just another Western.

10.) Lesley Manville-Another Year

Lesley Manville is a life force in this somber Mike Leigh character study. She plays a sometimes pathetic and very clingy woman and Manville nails that perfectly. The trick is that she makes us feel for and sympathize with her. Her performance as a lonely, needy woman is touching and beautiful.

11.) Michelle Williams-Blue Valentine

Along with Natalie Portman I don't believe any actress is better at this moment than Michelle Williams. Williams is heartbreaking, natural and totally believable as half of a crumbling, married couple. What Williams excels in better than any other actress is in playing real flesh and blood characters. She is real without a trace of vanity and I never see her acting. She is the most natural screen presence and beauty I have seen since Meryl Streep burst on the scene.

I am leaning towards Natalie Portman as the clear choice for the best but I am going to say that Jennifer Lawrence, Dakota Fanning and Michelle Williams are equally great. So I am calling it a four way tie for Portman, Lawrence, Fanning and Williams. Those four are the best this year equally and they will be honored and great for years and decades to come.

On a final note I am begging the Oscars to expand the acting categories. Will the world end and Katherine Heigl win a Best Actress award if you nominated maybe 6 or 7 in any category?

Friday, February 18, 2011


'Unknown' (PG-13) (3 stars)

Writers: Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Laim Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz,
Frank Langella, Sebastian Koch, Karl Markovics

I love movies like "Unknown" if they are done half way decently. This is one of those puzzle movies that if not too dumb can entertain you if you don't think about it too deeply. So if you like those kind of movies where you have to piece together the puzzle sit back, suspend your disbelief and enjoy. Liam Neeson is now cornering the action market with "Taken" and now this movie. He is like a thinking man's Jason Statham. I think if "Unknown" is a success you might be seeing some of these type of action thrillers for Neeson periodically. "Taken" is an easy movie to forget like this one is but "Unknown" is gentler and tamer and not as nasty or violent. I am not sure that this movie makes any sense but I didn't care, I was having a blast and was glued to the screen. I can't go in to deeply about the plot but you have seen what the movie is about, sort of, in the trailers. There are a lot of surprises and of course a huge twist at the end that I actually liked. Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris who has come with his wife (January Jones) to a scientific convention. Dr. Harris gets in a cab and gets in a terrible car accident. He wakes up in a hospital, can't remember anything and when he gets back to his wife again she doesn't remember him.

After the set up Dr. Harris tries to find out what the hell is going on and he enlists the help of the woman who drove the taxi. She is played by the beautiful Diane Kruger and I wish when I grabbed a cab someone who looked like her drove it. So she is his taxi driver? See what I mean about suspending disbelief? What comes after the set up is sometimes corny and dumb and sometimes exciting. Director Jaume Collet-Serra who has made really cheesy "B" movies so far does a good job keeping the pace moving fast enough to cover up the plot holes. The movie is fun and entertaining and there is good work by Aidan Quinn, Kruger and especially Bruno Ganz in a great supporting role. January Jones is okay but her acting for movies has to get sharper, here she seems lost and stiff. The movie lives and breathes on the charm and likability of Liam Neeson. We like following him and want him to succeed in straightening things out. He is also becoming a believable and solid action star, he kicks major ass and gains your sympathy when doing it. So sit back and have fun, "Unknown" might be far fetched but I will take it over nihilistic, ugly trash like "The Mechanic" any day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

'The Eagle'

'The Eagle' (PG-13) (rental)

Writer: Jeremy Brock based on novel "The Eagle of the Ninth" by Rosemary Sutcliff
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Denis O'Hare, Donald Sutherland, Taher Rahim,
Dakin Matthews

To me, from watching the trailers, I thought "The Eagle" looked like it was going to be laughable and that Channing Tatum would be miscast. Well to my surprise "The Eagle" was a gritty battle picture, sort of a junior "Braveheart". Channing Tatum is also pretty solid here and he does have a future as an action star. I was also very impressed with Jamie Bell who has come a long way from "Billy Elliot". He holds his own in the action scenes and lends some real acting to the project. "The Eagle" starts off lackluster but gains steam when it becomes a chase picture in beautiful Scotland scenery. "The Eagle" takes place in 12 AD as Roman warrior Marcus (Tatum) tries to defend the honor of his dead father by finding his lost legion's golden emblem. After conquering the British, Marcus takes along a British soldier (Bell)for his slave. Tatum and Bell work well off each other and after some boring exposition and some messy battle scenes for a half hour the movie starts to get on a roll becoming action packed.

"The Eagle" reminded me a little of "Last of the Mohicans" as Marcus and Esca are chased by nomadic tribes. The director Kevin Macdonald directed the very fine film "The Last King of Scotland" and I love how he handles the chase scenes. The location work and cinematography are dark, gritty and stunning. He is great with actors and he gets a solid, minimal performance by Tatum. By the end though I felt somehow like a lot of the movie was play time. I like the chase scenes and the fact they keep the dialogue in the background so it can't become silly. I just don't think that it is worth seeing on the big screen because the story sometimes needs a larger than life feel and most of the time it seems timid and small, maybe a little more (R) rated flair was needed. This is a decent movie to watch on your big screen television on 3D where you can replay all the neat action stuff.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

'Cedar Rapids'

'Cedar Rapids' (R) (3 stars)

Writer: Phil Johnston
Director: Miguel Arteta
Starring: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Kurtwood Smith,
Thomas Lennon, Stephen Root, Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry, Mike O' Malley,
Sigourney Weaver

"Cedar Rapids" is a small comedy where the laughs come from the characters and the humor is mild but effective. It is not a great or hilarious movie but compared to "Just Go With It" it is a real and smart comedy. Ed Helms is the unlikely hero of this entertaining movie as Tim Lippe who is an insurance agent. He is sent by his jerk of a boss to Cedar Rapids to represent his company, make a presentation and try to win a business award for his company. He is told he will be rooming with some good agents but is told to stay away from a very bad influence and his name is Dean Ziegler. Well wouldn't you know it but Dean is forced to room with Tim and his other roommate. Dean and Tim will become unlikely friends and grow to really respect each other. Dean is played by John C. Reilly who is so good here as he was in last year's "Cyrus". With this and his performance in "Cyrus" Reilly is on a real roll, he is genuinely funny and effective and I would love to see him in a movie every year. I also really liked Ed Helms here whose character is a real loser at first but he grows on you and you end up cheering for him. There is also some of the finest work I have seen Anne Heche give in a long time. Heche plays another agent who starts to really like Tim. Heche and Helms have good chemistry together and Heche looks really good here.

There is also some great character work done by Isaiah Whitlock Jr. as Tim's other roommate and good supporting turns by Stephen Root (Office Space), Rob Corddry and Alia Shawkat (Whip It). As Tim and the others get involved in a very wild night and things get crazy the movie stays grounded thanks to the acting and the well written characters. I really believed that these were real people and the comedy gets broad but it doesn't become stupid. Ed Helms is really good in "The Office" and he showed he could co star in a funny blockbuster like "The Hangover" and here he proves he can carry a movie by himself. Miguel Arteta has made some offbeat and funny movies like "Chuck and Buck" and "The Good Girl". Here he has delivered another funny, charming and slightly twisted comedy and the movie really grows on you. The screenplay is smart, there are genuinely funny moments and the characters are fun to spend time with. This is not a movie where the laughs come fast and furious but I will take this over crap like "Just Go With It" any day! There is actually smart people with great talent here that don't insult their audience.

'Just Go With It'

'Just Go With It' (PG-13) (1 star)

Writers: Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Bailee Madison,
Nick Swardson, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Nealon, Nicole Kidman, Dave Matthews

You know you are in deep trouble when you are watching an Adam Sandler movie and you miss Rob Schneider. When Rob decides your movie isn't good enough for him to be in I think you have hit rock bottom. I really do love Adam Sandler and I have liked movies of his that critics hate (Grown Ups)and that regular movie goers hate (You Don't Mess With the Zohan). I can't defend Sandler this time with his latest embarrassment and this is coming from the man who even liked "Little Nicky" though I don't get "The Waterboy". I pretty much think Sandler is critic proof but putting criticism aside this is a stupid, unfunny comedy. I hope I am not alone in this but I actually got uncomfortable watching this. Adam Sandler plays a plastic surgeon who is best friends with his assistant played by an uncomfortable looking Jennifer Aniston. Sandler's thing is to wear a wedding ring and pretend that he is married but going through a divorce. He finds that women are attracted to this and he gets some good one night stands out of it. Things get complicated when he finds a much younger woman that he likes. She finds the ring and he comes up with a story that he is going through a divorce. To make her believe this he enlists his assistant and friend to pretend that she is his soon to be ex wife. If you can figure out by now how this movie will end please don't go see it.

Adam Sandler movies can be dumb but he is very likable and some of his movies are dumb in a smart way. Here Sandler is a jerk, the others around him are clueless and Sandler movies can be original but this one is recycled "Three's Company". I believe I am right in thinking that Sandler will have to disown this disaster, he is too smart. The only laughs I found that were truly good laughs were in the first 15 minutes. The scenes belong to Rachel Dratch and Kevin Nealon as patients of Sandler and they are great sight gags. When the story kicks in it begins on an implausible note and that is not the reason I don't like the movie. I swear as the movie lumbers along the jokes get worse, the movie gets more painful and finally the movie becomes a mess. The movie is actually stolen by little Bailee Madison who plays Aniston's daughter. Aniston's kids start to pretend that Sandler is their Dad and Bailee has some funny scenes as she tries to fake a British accent. The other jokes here you have seen before in a Sandler movie but these seem like his rejected jokes. There are a lot of sex jokes and again a (PG-13) movie is real close to a (R) again. I really like Jennifer Aniston and she is funny, charming and beautiful. In this movie she looks like she is lost, her chemistry with Sandler is good but the story kills that chemistry after a while.

The young female that Sander likes is played by model Brooklyn Decker and she is attractive (actually Aniston is much more beautiful) but her character has to be one of the dumbest women I have ever seen depicted on a movie screen. There is no possible way she could have believed all the lies that Sandler gives her. Sandler and Aniston's delivery of their lies are so awkward that anyone would have called them on it right away. This is one of those movies were everyone is an idiot and situations come up like they do in a really bad sitcom. I wouldn't mind all of this if the movie was funny. As the film moves along some of the most jaw dropping and really bad comedy I have seen in any movie in the past ten years develops. There is a scene where Sandler's friend has to give mouth to mouth to an obviously fake looking sheep (don't ask). Another numbingly bad scene comes about through a sub plot that involves Nicole Kidman. I have never seen a big time actress get involved with one of the weirdest, most embarrassing scenes ever given to an actress. Kidman has a Hawaiian dance off with Aniston that leads to dumber and weirder jokes that made my jaw drop. I have seen some very weird, uncomfortable comedy in movies but this was pathetic. "Just Go With It" is a train wreck and if this movie didn't have Sandler in it, meaning it will probably be a monster hit, it would kill Jennifer Aniston's movie career.

P.S. Nicole Kidman not only looks embarrassed in this movie but she looks terrible. She has admitted to taking Botox and not liking it and I have defended her before form critics who have been blasting her but she looks scary in this movie. I kind of feel guilty for laughing that Kidman looks so plastic in this when the movie deals with a plastic surgeon. Yikes!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

'Super Bowl of Movies: The 10 Best Football Movies'

'Super Bowl of Movies: The 10 Best Football Movies'

Being a huge football fan and nut, the Super Bowl is like a holiday to me as it is for others. Even if you don't have a rooting interest in the game there are the commercials, gambling on who will score first, how long the National Anthem will take to be performed, etc. It is a celebration of the sweat, tears, drama, violence and thrill of a sport that is full of strategy and excitement. There are over 50 football movies but to me it is easier to pick great football movies as opposed to baseball movies. It seems there are much more great baseball movies to choose from so it gets hard to pick the best. I googled up football movies and saw a lot I forgot about. Sorry but "The Replacements" and "Unnecessary Roughness" are entertaining but not truly great football movies and "The Blind Side" gets to be weaker the more I think about it. That is fantasy land and I am picking football movies that deal with the true grit of the game and true strategy. Sure some on my list can seem to be phony in spots but they are great because they love the true nature of football. Some of my picks are not just focused on professional football. They deal with high school and college football also. The non professional football players don't have that money motivation so sometimes there is more heart and drama. Without further ado here are my picks for the ten best football movies.

10. All the Right Moves (83) (R)

Director: Michael Chapman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Lea Thompson, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Penn

This is a movie that can sometimes be cheesy but I was struck with how serious and dramatic the movie gets. This movie with Tom Cruise, right before he would become a star, packs a little power. I was in high school when this was released and it captures high school football and the pressures of it very well. There is always that pressure on these kids from small towns to want to get out and become somebody and that first step is getting to college. I love Craig T. Nelson's tough coach who I thought made a lot of sense in his point of view. Stefan is like a lot of high school players who think they know everything. He has some arrogance to him but learns really fast that the grown ups might just know what is best for the kids. By the way, this movie takes place in Pittsburgh, home of the Steelers.

9.) Semi-Tough (77) (R)

Writer: Walter Bernstein
Director: Michael Ritchie
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Preston

This is really not the best football movie but it knows it's subject to at least look realistic. The reason I like this movie is because it is an entertaining love story about friendship. I also like the appeal of the main stars here and it shows how great the late Jill Clayburgh could be. A lot of people haven't seen this movie but it is a lot of fun and amusing to see how football was portrayed in the 70's.

8.) Heaven Can Wait (78)

Writers: Buck Henry and Elaine May
Directors: Warren Beatty and Buck Henry
Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Jack Warden, James Mason, Dyan Cannon, Charles Grodin, Buck Henry

This smash hit of the 70's is a great love story first and foremost and it is one of the only movies on my list that deals with winning the Super Bowl. Warren Beatty was at the top of his form as Joe Pendleton who accidentally gets taken away from his body by an angel. He then has to find his way back in another body to win a Super Bowl for his Los Angeles Rams. The movie is a great screwball comedy, the football game is dramatic and the feel of the movie is old fashioned. It mixes the classic screwball comedy of the 30's with modern football dramatics.

7.) Rudy (93) (PG)

Writer: Angelo Pizzo
Director: David Anspaugh
Starring: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Charles S. Dutton, Ned Beatty, Lili Taylor,
Vince Vaughn

You would have to be a really cynical person with no heart not to love this inspiring movie. I hate Notre Dame and even I was choked up watching this movie and cheering for Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger. Sean Astin is great as Rudy and the movie knows how to push the right buttons. It is like football's version of "Hoosiers" which is fitting since they both have the same director. This has the right mix of Hollywood corn and the pure, unabashed spirit of football and the ultimate underdog.

6.) Friday Night Lights (04) (PG-13)

Writers: David Aaron Cohen and Peter Berg based on novel written by Buzz Bissinger
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke,
Connie Britton, Jay Hernandez

This captures the pressure and craziness of high school football in Texas flawlessly. The movie is full of high drama, energy and great performances. Even better is the television adaptation which is in my top 5 television dramas of all time. Every episode is like a small movie and I have cried during so many episodes. The chemistry between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton is magic and the movie has the most realistic depiction of marriage I have ever seen. So actually this spot belongs to the show but there would be no show without the movie.

5.) Everybody's All American (88) (R)

Writer: Thomas Rickman Based on novel written by Frank Deford
Director: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jessica Lange, Timothy Hutton, John Goodman, Patricia Clarkson

This is the most under rated football movie and if you like pure, old fashioned Hollywood corn you must check this out. Dennis Quaid again gives an under rated performance by one of the most under rated actors of my generation. This is a highly entertaining look at a college football legend in Louisiana whose rough transition to the pros is a great strain on his marriage. Quaid and Jessica Lange are great together as Gavin Grey and Babs, a true old fashioned Hollywood couple. This is more fantasy than realistic but it is a lot of fun and there is also a great early performance by John Goodman.

4.) Lucas (86) (PG)

Written and Directed by David Seltzer
Starring: Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, Keri Green, Winona Ryder, Guy Boyd, Jeremy Piven

If you have not seen this movie I urge you to seek it out right away. This is not only a great movie about football, it is a great love story and easily one of the best movies about high school. Also for underdog, inspiring sports movies this puts "Rudy" to shame. The late Corey Haim, in an outstanding performance, is so wonderful as Lucas, a high school nerd who is very small for his age. He falls in love and tries to make the high school football team to win over a popular cheerleader who has eyes for the star quarterback. This leads to one of the most inspiring and heartfelt endings I have seen in any sports movie. If you have a heart you will get swept away, be on your feet cheering and you will be crying your eyes out. Charlie Sheen and Keri Green are also great here and look for a young Jeremy Piven and Winona Ryder. A great job by my mom's high school classmate and Highland Park native David Seltzer.

3.) Brian's Song (71)

Writer: William Binn Based on book "I am Third" written by Gale Sayers and Al Silverman
Director: Buzz Kulik
Starring: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden, Shelley Fabares, Bernie Casey,
Abe Gibron, the Chicago Bears players as themselves

If you are a Bears fan and a fan of tearjerkers this has to be high on your list of the best football movies. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams are outstanding as Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. They have great chemistry and you believe that they are really great friends. This is inspiring and heartbreaking and as a Chicago Bears fan I feel great pride in this movie.

2.) The Longest Yard (74) (R)

Writer: Tracy Kennan Wynn
Director: Robert Aldrich
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad, James Hampton,
Harry Caesar, Mike Henry, Richard Kiel, Pepper Martin, Bernadette Peters,Ray Nitschke

This and "Slapshot" are the funniest sports comedies in cinema history. The movie is also one of the best prison movies ever made and Burt Reynold's best movie. I was amazed at how great the football strategy was here and it has one of the best endings and games I have ever seen in a sports movie. The movie is extremely funny, raunchy and violent and it will get you in such a great mood before the big game Sunday. This is one of the movies that made me want to become a film maker. This movie is pure excitement and pure adrenaline and the cast is all wonderful. It was a shame that Adam Sandler had to desecrate this classic with his horrible remake. This movie has been copied to death since it came out back in the 70's. There would be no "Slapshot" and there would be no such great football movie as my #1 pick without this classic.

1.) North Dallas Forty (79) (R)

Writers: Ted Kotcheff, Frank Yablans and Peter Gent based on his novel
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Starring: Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Charles Durning, G.D. Spradlin, Bo Svenson,
John Matuszak, Dabney Coleman, Brian Denehy

This is my pick for the best football movie because even 30 years after it's release it is extremely topical and relevant. This movie is based on the Dallas Cowboys of the early 70's but deals with a fictional team. Nick Nolte and Mac Davis, yes Davis could actually act, are great and very believable here as football players. This movie is so relevant to today's football especially with the lockout in danger of becoming a reality for next season. It realistically shows the battle between players and owners with honesty. Also the way that the coaches and owners deal with injuries here is a dire foreshadowing on what has become the serious subject matter of concussions in today's football. The way Nolte's receiver takes a pain shot for his injured leg also reminds me of what Jay Cutler had to endure in the NFC title game this year. There is a powerful moment where a player reluctantly gets a pain shot for a hamstring injury, can't feel his leg and on a certain play comes up hurting the leg and getting seriously mangled. So this movie has dated very well and besides being compelling dramatically it is also extremely funny. It is raunchy, hilarious and Bo Svenson and John Matusak are wonderful as two offensive linemen who have some great scenes with Durning's assistant coach. Also wonderful are the realistic football scenes and a truly classic villain in G.D. Spradlin's head coach inspired by Tom Landry. There is an amazing speech at the end given by John Matusak against the coaches and how they treat the players. Also the movie ends with a tense meeting between Nolte and the owners. The movie winds up being deep and profound and it knows it's subject and it still holds up today. I actually am going to watch it again right now to get me in the mood for tomorrow.

So that is my list and I know there will be some who think I have gone nuts to put "Everybody's All American" and "All the Right Moves" on my list. So either on here or on facebook feel free to agree or disagree and give me your favorite picks also.

Friday, February 4, 2011


'Sanctum' (R) (1 1/2 stars)

Writers: John Garvin and Andrew Wight
Director: Alister Grierson
Starring: Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson

Will someone please stop this disease called 3D! I am thinking of starting a protest that no movie should be shot in 3D that is not named "Avatar". Not only is every movie transferred from 2D to 3D bad but even the movies shot in 3D are lame. You can add all the special effect, 3D shots you want but a turkey is a turkey and a lackluster story will kill your movie. There is one cool shot that is enhanced by 3D and only one and it comes in the last ten minutes of the movie. You would think an underwater movie in caves would be cool in 3D but here the film is blurred and looks terrible. 3D is ruining cinematography in a lot of these movies except for the breathtaking "Avatar". This is not the worst problem that "Sanctum" has, the dialogue here is terrible and laughable. Though I am glad that third graders are getting work as writers for movies these days. You also have some of the worst acting by an ensemble cast I have seen, do they give Razzie awards for that? The plot here doesn't matter, it is the old my Dad is a wanker but once our lives are in danger Dad will be a hero to me stories. Everyone here is pretty much a wanker but at least there is a hot woman to look at. Though once she dies I wanted to take a nap and go do anything else. Yes I can call these characters wankers because the movie is I am guessing Australian.

The really sad fact is that with James Cameron's name attached I was expecting an awesome 3D movie. Though I think Cameron must of given his assistant the script and had him green light it. I found the 3D effects and photography to be very cheesy and amateurish. This is a flat looking movie and there are so many cheesy cliches in the story that after a while I lost count. This is also a dull movie that creates no suspense, no true action and no one to root for because like I said they are all wankers. The father is seen at first to be a maniacal jerk but to me the son is the real jerk. When you start getting upset that others die when the bratty son keeps living you know you are in trouble. Let me stress again, unless your movie is like "Avatar" and "Tron: Legacy" and you take care in developing the 3D, don't shoot your movie in 3D. The real lesson is that only animated movies look great in 3D. "Sanctum" is a painful movie to sit through especially when those damn glasses add to your discomfort. If you are going to suffer through a turkey like this, those clunky glasses have to be more comfortable.

'Barney's Version' (10)

'Barney's Version' (10) (R) ( 3 stars)

Writer: Michael Konyves based on novel written by Mordecai Richler
Director: Richard J. Lewis
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver,
Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre, Saul Rubinek, Jake Hoffman, Maury Chaykin,
Mark Addy, Atom Egoyan

Barney Panofsky is a hard drinking, smart ass, blunt man that lives life on impulse. He is also played by the wonderful actor Paul Giamatti who was born to play this role. Actually Giamatti is knocked for playing all his characters in the same jittery style but here his great performance is free of mannerisms. The movie starts out a little choppy but settles into a charming, funny and ultimately bittersweet movie. The movie takes us through Barney's life and all three of his marriages and also deals with the shooting death of his friend. The movie surprised me at the end for it becomes powerful and sad. It contains broad comedy, drama, tragedy and rich characters. It is based on a novel by Mordecai Richler who wrote "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz". I did not read "Barney's Version" but I thought the movie unfolded like a good novel and in the second half finds it's voice.

There are very good performances by the women who play Barney's three wives even though the first two characters are not written deeply enough. The first wife Clara is played by newcomer Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight). Her character seems to be a caricature and not someone we get to know but Lefevre does a good job. Things get better with the second wife played by Minnie Driver who is very funny here but once they get married her character is more superficially written. The movie comes to life and settles down once Barney gets married to his third wife. This is where the heart of the movie lies and Rosamund Pike is outstanding here as Miriam Panofsky. Barney actually hits on Miriam at the wedding of his second wife. Barney's stubbornness, impulses and drive pay off after he divorces the second Mrs. P and marries Miriam. This is where he will have his kids and will lead to the best material in the movie. A major plot development comes along and I was surprised by it's power and poignancy. This is a rich movie filled with characters we can relate to and it is a joy to watch Giamatti act. Also great here is Dustin Hoffman as Barney's father Izzy. Hoffman lately has been great in small character parts and here he is very funny and effective. The first half of "Barney's version is a little unfocused but in the end works it's magic and touches you with it's humor and charm.

'The Illusionist' (10)

'The Illusionist' (10) (France) (PG) (3 1/2 stars)

Writer: Sylvain Chomet based on screenplay written by Jacques Tati
Director: Sylvain Chomet
Starring the Voices of: Jean-Claude Donda, Eilidh Rankin

Pixar these days have cornered the market on excellent animated movies while other ones pale in comparison. It is refreshing to see another animated movie achieve greatness. "The Illusionist" is that film and it is the best animated movie of 2010.
Based on a lost Jacques Tati screenplay, "The Illusionist" is like watching a classic silent movie. The characters have voices but they aren't pronounced and the beautiful music and images are where the real enchantment is displayed. "The Illusionist" is set in 1959 and the title character's days of magic tricks are coming to an end due to rock music and changing tastes. We first see him pull a rabbit out of his hat like other magicians but the rabbit keeps escaping. This rabbit is like a character on his own with a distinct personality. The Illusionist is a tall, awkward man who sadly finds out that people are just not interested in his kind of magic anymore. There is a funny scene where a rock group is playing to adoring, screaming fans and the Illusionist is up next. As he tries to get on stage the curtain keeps coming up so the band can do several encores. He packs up and moves to Scotland where he finds a young woman and moves in with her. He tries to find work but all he can find in the end is a department store window job where he uses his magic to display items for sale. There he strikes a beautiful friendship with this woman and his rabbit sleeps on his chest every night.

"The Illusionist" is based on a Tati screenplay and there are bits and pieces that are Tati like. Now I have not seen one Tati movie and I wish I had because I want to see how this movie pays homage. I have seen little scenes from Tati movies and this month I will see them all on DVD. Though I still know that "The Illusionist" is a touching, very funny and sweet movie with an enchanting, quirky score that can also be beautiful. I love how director Sylvain Chomet frames shots and keeps the camera on them for long periods of time. I love the rain filled streets, small bars and the hotels and home that The Illusionist dwells in. I appreciated the serenity and quiet when so many animated films these days are noisy and cluttered. I love Pixar but they can fall into that noise problem sometimes (Cars) and "The Illusionist", not the slightly over rated "Toy Story 3" touched me with it's beauty and bittersweet ending. I liked this movie much more than Chomet's "Triplettes of Belleville because of it's tenderness. I think kids should go see this movie, there are really no subtitles, the movie is funny and great to look at and it is something different. It is also a movie that adults will appreciate and love even more.