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The following are each of my choices for Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, from 1985-2012, so far.
John Huston - Prizzi's Honor
Jack Nicholson - Prizzi's Honor
Whoopi Goldberg - The Color Purple
William Hickey - Prizzi's Honor
Anjelica Huston - Prizzi's Honor
Oliver Stone - Platoon
Paul Newman - The Color of Money
Sigourney Weaver - Aliens
Tom Berenger - Platoon
Dianne Wiest - Hannah and Her Sisters
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
John Hughes - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Steve Martin - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Holly Hunter - Broadcast News
John Candy - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Barbara Hershey - Tin Men
John McTiernan - Die Hard
Tom Hanks - Big
Jodie Foster - The Accused
Kevin Kline - A Fish Called Wanda
Michelle Pfeiffer - Dangerous Liaisons
Field of Dreams
Phil Alden Robinson - Field of Dreams
Kenneth Branagh - Henry V
Meg Ryan - When Harry Met Sally
Martin Landau - Crimes and Misdemeanors
Dianne Wiest - Parenthood
Martin Scorsese - Goodfellas
Ray Liotta - Goodfellas
Kathy Bates - Misery
Joe Pesci - Goodfellas
Lorraine Bracco - Goodfellas
Silence of the Lambs
Jonathan Demme - Silence of the Lambs
Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster - Silence of the Lambs
Ted Levine - Silence of the Lambs
Juliette Lewis - Cape Fear
Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven
Al Pacino - Scent of a Woman
Geena Davis - A League of Their Own
Gene Hackman - Unforgiven
Marisa Tomei - My Cousin Vinny
Steven Spielberg - Schindler's List
Tom Hanks - Philadelpia
Holly Hunter - The Piano
Ralph Fiennes - Schindler's List
Anna Paquin - The Piano
Robert Zemeckis - Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump
Irene Jacob - Three Colors: Red
Gary Sinise - Forrest Gump
Dianne Wiest - Bullets Over Broadway
Ron Howard - Apollo 13
Nicolas Cage - Leaving Las Vegas
Nicole Kidman - To Die For
Ed Harris - Apollo 13
Mira Sorvino - Mighty Aphrodite
The English Patient
Anthony Minghella - The English Patient
Billy Bob Thornton - Sling Blade
Frances McDormand - Fargo
Edward Norton - Primal Fear
Juliette Binoche - The English Patient
Good Will Hunting
Gus Van Sant - Good Will Hunting
Matt Damon - Good Will Hunting
Joey Lauren Adams - Chasing Amy
Robin Williams - Good Will Hunting
Minnie Driver - Good Will Hunting
Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg - Saving Private Ryan
Jim Carrey - The Truman Show
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth
Bill Murray - Rushmore
Laura Linney - The Truman Show
Sam Mendes - American Beauty
Kevin Spacey - American Beauty
Hilary Swank - Boys Don't Cry
Michael Caine - The Cider House Rules
Angelina Jolie - Girl, Interrupted
Steven Soderbergh - Traffic
George Clooney - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Julia Roberts - Erin Brockovich
Benicio Del Toro - Traffic
Marcia Gay Harden - Pollock
A Beautiful Mind
Ron Howard - A Beautiful Mind
Russell Crowe - A Beautiful Mind
Naomi Watts - Mulholland Dr.
Ian McKellen - Fellowship of the Ring
Jennifer Connelly - A Beautiful Mind
Gangs of New York
Martin Scorsese - Gangs of New York
Adrien Brody - The Pianist
Julianne Moore - Far from Heaven
Chris Cooper - Adaptation
Catherine Zeta-Jones - Chicago
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Peter Jackson - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Sean Penn - Mystic River
Charlize Theron - Monster
Tim Robbins - Mystic River
Renee Zellweger - Cold Mountain
Michael Mann - Collateral
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen - Closer
Natalie Portman - Closer
Ron Howard - Cinderella Man
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Matt Dillon - Crash
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Martin Scorsese - The Departed
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Kate Winslet - Little Children
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
No Country for Old Men
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Hurt Locker
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker
Marion Cotillard - Public Enemies
Ben Affleck - The Town
Ben Stiller - Greenberg
Diane Lane - Secretariat
Jon Hamm - The Town
Michelle Williams - Shutter Island
X-Men: First Class
Matthew Vaughn - X-Men: First Class
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
Keira Knightley - A Dangerous Method
Kevin Bacon - X-Men: First Class
Hayley Atwell - Captain America: The First Avenger
Sam Mendes - Skyfall
Hugh Jackman - Les Miserables
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
Jude Law - Anna Karenina
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Amy Adams - Her
Alejandro Gonzalaez Inarritu - Birdman
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Edward Norton - Birdman
Emma Stone - Birdman
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Will Smith - Concussion
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
My Best Picture Winners from 1960-1984
1960: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
1961: The Hustler (Robert Rossen)
1962: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford)
1963: The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock)
1964: Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)
1965: Doctor Zhivago (David Lean)
1966: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols)
1967: Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn)
1968: The Producers (Mel Brooks)
1969: Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger)
1970: The Twelve Chairs (Mel Brooks)
1971: The French Connection (William Friedkin)
1972: The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
1973: The Sting (George Roy Hill)
1974: The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola)
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman)
1976: Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
1977: Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
1978: The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)
1979: ...And Justice for All. (Norman Jewison)
1980: Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese)
1981: Reds (Warren Beatty)
1982: E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg)
1983: Terms of Endearment (James L. Brooks)
1984: The Natural (Barry Levinson)
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
One of Richard Linklater's Best
The wait for Richard Linklater's follow-up to the masterpiece that is Boyhood is now over, with the release of his new film, Everybody Wants Some!!. Linklater has found ways multiple times to keep his audience engaged by spending time with the characters in films such as Dazed and Confused and School of Rock, and this film is no exception.
The film begins with a montage of a young kid named Jake Bradford (Blake Jenner) on his way to college at Southeast Texas University. He is a pitcher who was a star in high school and we see him move in to the house where his teammates live. Shortly after meeting them, a few of them drive to around, where one of them tries to flirt with a couple of girls moving in, but they both reject the teammate and one of the girls says she likes the quiet one in the back, referring to Jake. The girl is Beverly (Zoey Deutch), a performing arts major.
The film takes place in 1980 during the entire weekend before Jake begins his freshman year. Linklater shows the guys being competitive at everything they do at the houses, them partying, having fun, and trying to be grown up. Linklater's direction is fun and focused on the characters, and the script focuses on what it's like to be in college. In an unusual way, Linklater has made this film sort of a sequel to both and .
As for performances, Blake Jenner is likable as Jake. He has a calm presence as someone trying to be one of the guys, yet try to start a relationship with the girl he meets. Zoey Deutch is very good here as Beverly, the performing arts major. I enjoyed all of the scenes between Beverly and Jake. All of the actors who play Jake's teammates are fun and entertaining in their own quirky ways. Tyler Hoechlin has come a long way since Road to Perdition, and shows an interesting role here as Glenn McReynolds, a power hitter and team leader who hates pitchers.
I think this is one of Richard Linklater's best films, but not his overall best. I still think Boyhood is his best film.
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
The Good Dinosaur is a good Pixar movie.
Pixar has finally come back to its originality that made it so great with Inside Out earlier this year, and continues to do so with its newest flick, The Good Dinosaur.
We start out millions of years ago, seeing the a meteor floating through space, and it seems to be coming for Earth. But the meteor passes over Earth completely, and we see what it would be like if dinosaurs never died. Fast forward to millions of years later, where we two dinosaurs start a family with three children of their own: Libby, Buck, and Arlo. They all run a farm together, and all have their way of contributing. We see Arlo most of the time, where he is assigned a new job of stopping the culprit who has been stealing the family's food. The culprit is caught, but Arlo is afraid of the small human, who runs off. Arlo catches up to the human boy, but can't find his way back home. The story becomes all about the relationship between Arlo and the human boy known as Spot, as Arlo grows in his experience being lost and away from home.
Pixar continues to prove their capabilities at tugging at the heartstrings of the audience here, especially with their own version of a popular and sad Disney moment. Thanks to the efforts of director Peter Sohn, Pixar shows their uniqueness and originality with the stories they tell.
The music is definitely the one of the two standout technical aspects of this film. Composers Mychael and Jeff Danna make some moving and emotional music that fits well and weaves into each scene quite nicely. The other standout technical aspect is the beautiful scenery here. So many of the shots felt real, and the filmmakers did a beautiful job of capturing such great places in nature.
All of the voice performances were good, but there were two that stood out to me most. One is one of the most recognizable voices out there in Sam Elliott as the voice of Butch, a T-Rex and father of two who looks after Arlo after Arlo helps out the T-Rex's. The other is Steve Zahn as Thunderclap, a vulture who makes it clear he enjoys it when storms come.
Chris Columbus and Adam Sandler Combine Fun With Nostalgia
Chris Columbus and Adam Sandler are two people in the film industry whose movies I grew up with and still enjoy up to today. Columbus gave us Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Sandler gave us Happy Gilmore, Mr. Deeds, and Big Daddy. Now, they have combined their efforts to give us a new film that also took me back with Pixels.
The film begins with adolescent versions of Sam Brenner and Will Cooper, who are checking out the new video game arcade that just opened. There, they also meet and befriend Ludlow Lamonsoff. They all get involved in a huge video game tournament where footage of all the kids playing video games will be sent into outer space. The finals come down to Sam and another kid named Eddie Plant. Eddie beats Sam in a game of Donkey Kong. Years later, they have all lived different lives. Will (Kevin James) has become President of the United States, while Sam (Adam Sandler) has become a tech installer. Ludlow (Josh Gad) has become a conspiracy theorist. Will has called in Sam to look at some footage he has of a military base in Guam, thinking it might have something to do with a video game they played when they were kids. It turns out that the attackers are an alien race who interpreted the video of kids playing video games as a declaration of war. When the military isn't trained for defending the world against video games, it is up to Sam and Ludlow to save the world before their three lives are up.
While Adam Sandler is well know for his low brow, goofy characters, this time around he has toned down the goofiness a lot. There is still a little bit of a goofball, but compared to his fellow cast members, his role is a bit more straight. Kevin James as the adult Will Cooper is also in more of straight part. Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage, who plays the adult version of Eddie Plant, have the crazy goofball roles in this one. Both Gad and Dinklage are riots in their parts and you can tell they are having a lot of fun with their roles. Veteran character actor Brian Cox is also a lot of fun in his part as a crusty old admiral who is not particularly happy with how the President is handling the crisis at hand. Michelle Monaghan is also decent as Colonel Violet Van Patten, a single mother with a young son who is also called into action during the crisis.
Chris Columbus delivers us a fun film with a lot of references to the old video games such as Donkey Kong, Pac Man, and Centipede. Columbus is having a lot of fun with this, mixing in the action and the comedy, and showing that he still has something for us. Now Columbus did have to go to the different companies who made each video game and get permission to use their characters. But with what he was able to get, he certainly shows respect for the characters and still gives the audience something entertaining.
The visual effects are outstanding. I like how the visual effects team made all the video game characters look like they came right out of the machine rather than some new, and improved CGI. With this, it feels more in line with the games from the 80's.
Pixels is a fun film for everyone. The kids will get some enjoyment and interest in the story and situations, while the adults will get to see some of their favorite video game characters come alive on screen.
A Fun New Addition to the MCU
Anyone who knows me knows that I highly enjoy Marvel films, and sing their praises. Since the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has made a hit with me every time. I've enjoyed all eleven installments Marvel has put out, and Ant-Man makes it twelve.
The story begins in 1989, where Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has quit SHIELD after he finds out that they tried to replicate his shrinking technology. He has been trying to hide it away from everyone ever since. Cut to present day San Francisco, where infamous burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is getting out of prison and moves in to an apartment with his former cell-mate, Luis (Michael Peña). Scott wants to see his daughter Cassie, but his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her fiancé Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) won't let him visit until he can pay child support. He can't hold a job due to his criminal record. To rectify, Luis tells Scott of a job he can pull off. Scott is reluctant because of his desire to stop stealing. He takes the job, which involves stealing from the safe of an old man who is not home, only to find a suit and helmet. As he dons the suit and finds out what it does, he hears a voice as he is being tested right away. Hank is the voice Scott hears. When Scott tries to return the suit, he is arrested and thrown in jail, but his "lawyer" Hank recruits him to be the new Ant-Man. Scott accepts the job and is needed to stop Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a former protégé of Hank's who has replicated his shrinking technology and wants to use it for his own personal gain.
I was always interested in this project since the announcement that Edgar Wright, director of comedies such as Hot Fuzz and The World's End, was going to direct. I became more interested when reading of the preproduction issues such as Marvel seeing the film one way with Wright seeing it a different way. Peyton Reed, who has directed films such as Bring It On and The Break-Up, stepped in and showed that he can not just do things how Marvel wants it done, but be able to add to it. Reed did a very nice job of mixing the action and comedy, and also combing a comedy film with a heist film. Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish had some nice ideas with the script. With Adam McKay coming on to fix up the script, he knows how to write to Rudd's strengths as an actor. Rudd also did some script polishing with McKay.
Paul Rudd has shown in the past that he can be a lead and carry a movie with roles in I Love You, Man, How Do You Know, and Wanderlust. As Scott Lang, Rudd is at his finest with making a criminal likable and showing that he wants to do good. Michael Douglas is just spectacular and elevates the role of the mentor to Scott to someone who is also haunted by his past. Michael Peña is a riot as Scott's best friend. He hilarious with when he tells Scott about the job and again when someone wants to find out about him. Corey Stoll also has some moments as Darren Cross. Everyone else goes from serviceable to decent.
The technical achievements are also great. I liked the use of the 1.85: 1 aspect ratio as I felt closer to the action. I thought the visual effects were spectacular, especially the scenes where Scott is ant sized and adapting to being that size. I also like the visuals when Scott is fighting Darren in Cassie's bedroom. The enlarged ant and the enlarged Thomas the Tank Engine cracked me up. I also liked the editing, especially in the two scenes where Luis is telling his story and the characters involved are talking the same way he is. The sound design was all around brilliant and I liked the use of different sounds.
This is an overall fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, this has an overall light tone that makes Marvel feel fresh but be part of the overall universe. I enjoyed the mid credits scene and the end scene makes a nice buildup to the next MCU installment.
The DUFF (2015)
Similar to the Films of John Hughes
I decided to see the latest high school themed comedy. From the trailer, it seemed somewhat mean spirited, but only a couple of the characters truly are.
Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman from Parenthood) is a few weeks into her senior year of high school. Bianca is a hard working student who is also the editor of her school's newspaper. She also enjoys watching cult films in her spare time. Her best friends are Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca Santos). When popular girl Madison Morgan (Bella Thorne) invites Jess and Casey to her party on a school night, Bianca feels left out, but ends up being there anyway. She has a crush on a guitar player named Toby, but gets too nervous around him and can't even come up with two words. At the party, Wesley Rush (Robbie Amell), the football team captain/Bianca's neighbor, tells her that she is a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Bianca's feelings are hurt, but she slowly realizes that he is right as she feels like she only is there to make her friends look better. Having no choice, Bianca goes to Wesley for help in looking more dateable in exchange for helping him improve his science grade. Seeing them spend time together, Madison does what she can to humiliate Bianca.
Like I said before, the film isn't as mean spirited as the trailer makes it out to be. The only mean spirited characters are Madison and her friend Caitlin, who films Bianca twice to humiliate her. In a lot of ways, The Duff reminds me of the films of John Hughes. With this film, director Ari Sandel and lead actress Mae Whitman show that everyone can relate to being a DUFF. Sandel's work here also makes me think of Hughes in the sense of how the latter showed that teenagers are human and go through life obstacles.
The standout in this cast is Mae Whitman in the front and center as Bianca Piper. Whitman did tremendous work the past five years as Amber Holt on Parenthood and shows here that she can carry a feature film. She is great here as this girl who overcomes obstacles with school, labels, and being dateable. The next standout is Bella Thorne, who plays the popular Madison Morgan. Thorne turns in a heck of a performance as the bitchy girl who thinks she is better than everyone else. Samuels, Santos, and Amell all do nice jobs in their respective roles. It was also nice to see Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, and Romany Malco all show up.
The film has a lot of laugh out loud moments, interesting characters, and an entertaining story.
Men, Women & Children (2014)
Jason Reitman Makes a Great Film
Jason Reitman has certainly become one of the best working directors today. He has shown some great work with Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. Labor Day was not as good as the first four films, but he has bounced back with his new film: Men, Women, and Children.
Men, Women, and Children is a few stories mixed together about how social media has changed the lives of high school teenagers and their parents. What I liked best is how Reitman is able to mix these stories and not focus on one for too long. One story involves Don Truby (Adam Sandler), a married man who uses his son's computer to watch porn, then looks to hook up with an escort. Coincidentally, his wife Helen (Rosemarie DeWitt) is also looking for an affair online. Another story involves high schooler Brandy Beltmeyer (Kaitlyn Dever) who can't do anything on her phone or computer without her overbearing mother Patricia (Jennifer Garner) knowing about it. Brandy also starts seeing Tim Mooney (Ansel Elgort), a fellow student who has quit the football team and spends his time with online role playing games. The other main story involves cheerleader Hannah Clint (Olivia Crocicchia), who aspires to be an actress and has a website about her operated by her supportive mother Donna (Judy Greer).
Reitman's direction and script show that he is a great story teller. With this film, he does a nice job of intertwining the stories of these characters. Reitman has also done a spectacular job of getting great performances out of his actors. For me, Adam Sandler is the first standout. With his performance as Don Truby, we see something completely different from his past films. We see a guy in a sexual rut and looking for something exciting. The next standout is Kaitlyn Dever as Brandy, who wants to live her life without her mother monitoring her every move. I hated Patricia Beltmeyer so much, which says how good of a job Jennifer Garner did as the nosiest mother in the world. I liked Judy Greer and Olivia Crocicchia in their roles as the Clints. I also liked Dean Norris and Ansel Elgort as the Mooneys. The entire ensemble does a tremendous job.
I also liked how Jason Reitman would keep the camera focused on the actors and bring up the graphics showing what is being typed or text.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
A Sweet Family Comedy-Drama
It seems that Shawn Levy is one of the most disliked directors out there. However, I find him to be very hard working and puts out fun and entertaining movies. His newest, This Is Where I Leave You, shows that Levy is getting a little more serious, while still being funny at the same time.
Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) is a producer for radio personality Wade (Dax Shepard). One day, Judd comes home to find his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) having sex with Wade. Shortly after, we see Judd living in a small apartment ignoring Quinn's phone calls, but receives one from his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) informing him that their father has passed away. Their mother, Hillary (Jane Fonda) is holding it together. At the funeral, we meet two more brothers, Paul (Corey Stoll) and Philip (Adam Driver). At home, Hillary has ordered for her children to stay home as they go through Shiva, or an entire week of mourning, stating that it was in their father's will. Throughout the film, we see the Altman family spend time together, have some fun, and lash things out.
Jason Bateman stands out as the lead in this ensemble. Here, Bateman shows us a guy who always played it safe and never took a chance. Bateman also shows that he can mix the comedy and drama in his character arc very well. In her second collaboration with director Shawn Levy, Tina Fey is funny and serious as the sister who keeps her brothers in line. Jane Fonda shows that she is still one of the best living actresses as the mother. Corey Stoll and Adam Driver are both good in their respective roles. Of the ladies in this film, my favorite was Rose Byrne as Penny Moore, a potential love interest for Judd. The standout in the supporting cast was Timothy Olyphant as Horry, the son of Hillary's neighbor Linda. Horry had also suffered a head injury and this character is completely different from Olyphant's Raylan from Justified.
This Is Where I Leave You is Shawn Levy's best and most mature film to date. With this film, Levy shows his ability to do comedy and drama mixed together. The script by Jonathan Tropper, based on his own novel, does well with focusing on all of the Altmans. The only technical standout is the music by Michael Giacchino, which made me think of his score from The Family Stone.
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
Best Football Movie Since Invincible
I had an awesome opportunity to see this film tonight. I, for one, enjoy football movies and enjoy the different stories around the sport that directors have brought out over the years. When the Game Stands Tall is a very nice new addition to my favorite football films.
The De La Salle High School Spartans are coached by Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel). He has led the Spartans to a 150 game winning streak, which is the longest in all of football, even more than any team in the NFL or NCAA. The beginning shows us an intertwining of win #151 with a team meeting the day before the game. The meeting shows us how together and united the seniors are while the game shows how hard working and dedicated they are during each play from snap to whistle. In that game, the juniors get to finish the game and we get to know who some of these guys are, particularly Chris Ryan (Alexander Ludwig), Danny Ladouceur (Matthew Daddario), and Tayshon Lanear (Jessie Usher). After that, the pressure is on to continue the winning streak and pick up where the graduating seniors left off.
Throughout the film, we see the Spartans face many adversities on and off the field. What I really liked in this story and script is how we see this team overcome their adversities and dealing with family, unity, and looking out for each other. This script Scott Marshall Smith and David Zelon is nice held together by director Thomas Carter, who does a nice job with the football sequences and the non-football scenes.
At the front and center of this film is Jim Caviezel as Coach Bob Ladouceur. With this role, we see Caviezel do so well as the coach, who knows the right thing to say, and doesn't act a lot like other coaches. Through Caviezel, we see a guy who has more of a calming influence and does what is best for his players. The next standout is Alexander Ludwig as Chris Ryan, a running back and linebacker who plays very hard and is always under pressure from his overbearing father (Clancy Brown). Brown is very interesting as the father who puts pressure on his son who is on the verge of breaking California's high school record for touchdowns. Laura Dern is nice in her role as the coach's wife. Michael Chiklis is also very good in his role as assistant coach Terry Eidson. In Chiklis, we see the kind of coach who does the job of getting guys fired up.
The film has all the makings to be a great one centered around high school football, and it certainly is a great one. This is easily one of my favorite football films out there.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Marvel Continues Its Excellence in Filmmaking
Wow, just wow! Marvel Studios keeps churning these films that keep making superhero movies to be among my favorite types of films. Marvel has now added to that again here with one that I had a blast watching, Guardians of the Galaxy.
In 1988, young Peter Quill is living on Earth and his mother passes away. He runs off but is abducted and then raised by Yondu (Michael Rooker) and his Ravagers. 26 years later, Peter (Chris Pratt) is now traveling around the galaxy, stealing things, living life, and prefers to be called Star Lord, until he steals an artifact and is stopped by Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Although he escapes, Korath calls on Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to retrieve the device. When Star Lord, tries to sell it, he is ambushed by Gamora and a fight ensues. This attract a pair of bounty hunters, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a tree-like humanoid named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). However, they are all stopped and imprisoned together. While in prison, the four meet Drax (Dave Bautista), who first wants to kill Gamora for her association with Ronan (Lee Pace), who killed his family. Star Lord convinces Drax that is not the case as Gamora has betrayed Ronan. The five all team up as they are wanted for the orb they have.
James Gunn direct and co-wrote this film and has done a spectacular job. Gunn has done a great job of telling us a story, showing us who these characters are, and keeping us interested in what is going to happen next. Gunn and his co-writer Nicole Perlman have done some great work at giving us this story of a group of heroes, but different from The Avengers.
Chris Pratt hugely stands out in this film as Peter Quill/Star Lord. While I have highly enjoyed his roles from Parks and Recreation, The Five Year Engagement, and Delivery Man, he shows a completely new side to his acting with this role. Here, we are not seeing the hilarious slacker or best friend like those other roles. With this part, Pratt shows that he can carry a film and shows that he can have a dramatic side too. The next standout surprisingly to me was Dave Bautista as Drax, the big muscular prisoner who joins the Guardians to first avenge his family, but becomes a respected member. Zoe Saldana is great as Gamora, who antagonizes at first, but joins Peter's Side. Bradley Cooper is a riot in his part voicing Rocket Raccoon. I also enjoyed Michael Rooker as Yondu, who seems to want to murder Peter. I also enjoyed seeing Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, and Glenn Close in each of their brief roles.
On the technical side, there are so many spectacular things to praise. First to stand out is the visual effects in this film. Next is the production design as it shows a lot of creativity and many interesting set pieces. The makeup is very well done. I also enjoyed the cinematography by Ben Davis, and the music by Tyler Bates.
I had a fun time watching this film, and would be happy to see it in theaters again. Marvel continues to show their excellence not just in superhero films, but films overall.
Nicholas Stoller Continues to Show His Filmmaking Talent
Nicholas Stoller has already achieved a feat of hitting a comedy trifecta with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, and The Five Year Engagement. He has now turned that trifecta into a quadrifecta with his newest comedy Neighbors.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are a married couple with a new home and an infant daughter. Their lives revolve around caring for their kid. One day, they noticed that a college fraternity has moved in next door to them. Realizing what the fraternity will be doing, Mac and Kelly go over to introduce themselves and nicely ask fraternity president Teddy (Zac Efron) and vice president Pete (Dave Franco) to keep the volume down. The fraternity doesn't listen, so Mac and Kelly go over and party with them and form a friendship. However, Mac breaks their trust by calling the cops, and all hell breaks loose between the Radners and the fraternity guys. The only one who is not willing the tolerate the nonsense is the college's Dean (Lisa Kudrow).
Nicholas Stoller has done another awesome job as a director, with this story of older couple vs. college fraternity. Stoller continues to show his talents behind the camera with making the film feel like a breeze, getting good performances out of his actors, and continuing to go for the laughs at just the right time.
Seth Rogen still shows some of the same stuff he's done in past performances, but this time he shows us a guy who is more grown up and mature compared to past characters like Ben Stone or Zack Brown. Rose Byrne is hilarious as the wife who is just as much clever as she is attractive. Byrne gives another one of her best performances. Efron shows that he wants to shed his younger image and gives us a interesting role as a guy who will stop at nothing until he proves his dominance over the Radners. Dave Franco is also interesting as a smart guy who puts his wants in life over his fraternity. The surprise to me is Ike Barinholtz as Mac's best friend Jimmy, a divorcée who wants nothing to do with his friend's plans until he realizes a frat guy named Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is having sex with the ex-wife Paula (Carla Gallo).