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Top 10 Best Films of 2015

 

10. The Revenant
As most of my colleagues have said, The Revenant isn’t a film, it’s an experience. Though, I can’t say it would be high on my re-watch-ability list. It is quite possibly the most unforgettable film this year. Largely due to an epic bear fight, in which images of that sequence are forever burned in my brain. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his most physically demanding and best performance yet! This film is beautifully shot, and with little dialogue director Alejandro G. Iñárritu still manages to captivate audiences through the entire 2 hours and 36 minutes.

9. Spotlight
Though this is a kind of slow burn film, it is worth patiently waiting for these reporters to gather all their research on the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Church. As Spotlight nears its conclusion with the Boston Globe publishing one of the most shocking revelations in history, you’re in for a powerful and emotional ending that I didn’t even expect to be so moved by.

8. The Hateful 8
I don’t know how Quentin Tarantino keeps doing it, but The Hateful 8 is just another great work of art by the iconic director. His dialogue never ceases to amaze me. As we watch the first half of the film trying to figure out the mystery among these peculiar characters, we wait in anticipation for the mind blowing second act that ends in true Tarantino style.

7. Room
For those who haven’t heard of this film, please do yourself a favor and see it right away! After being held captive in a room for over 5 years, we are shown the emotional trauma that follows after finally escaping and entering the real world. Room features an Oscar-worthy performance by Brie Larson and a breakout performance by Jacob Tremblay.

6. It Follows
These days horror films are rarely interesting and hardly scary, but It Follows manages to tell an original and clever story along with many scream-out-loud moments. The soundtrack only adds to this surprisingly, entertaining thriller that will leave you thinking twice before having unprotected sex.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Overall I have enjoyed almost all of the Star Wars films, but man, the recent piece to the saga is amazing! I can’t help but geek out talking about it. Not only is it a great continuation of the story filled with non-stop action and excitement, but all the new characters are likable and blend in perfectly with the return of the old.

4. Trainwreck
A good comedy that can make you truly laugh out loud and provide originality is like finding a diamond in the rough. And this year that diamond is Trainwreck. Amy Schumer has brought a whole new level of funny with the comedy about a commitment-phobic woman who never thought monogamy was possible, until she meets the one guy (Bill Hader) worth trying to commit with. There’s humor, there’s heart, and there’s Hader.

3. Inside Out
Not since Toy Story has an animated film hit me so hard with the reality of how sad growing up can be. Let’s put aside the fact that this script is smart and beyond creative. Inside Out is a bitter-sweet tale that reminds us of how simple our emotions were when we were kids and how much easier it was to stay joyful. Though there is a gloom to getting older and life’s changes, Inside Out also shows us the positive side of broadening our emotions.

2. The Martian
Well done Ridley Scott!!! Finally you make up for the crap that was The Counselor and Exodus: Gods and Kings. The past two years we’ve seen a visually stunning space film with Gravity and a confusing, long space film with Interstellar. But it’s 2015 that has brought us the best space movie yet! The Martian is the whole package film. Surprisingly enough, there is a lot of comic relief and the script does an excellent job of explaining the science in the film without going over the audiences’ head. With a running time of 2 hours and 24 minutes, the film never loses steam. The Martian is a beautifully shot and hilarious thrill ride.

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I wish this film got more recognition. Might be hard to remember back in July when ME and Earl and the Dying Girl came out, but it has stuck with me since. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon tells this story in such a John Hughes like manner that it almost feels nostalgic. This isn’t just a film about a girl with cancer. It’s her story told through point of view a new friend who is just now getting know her. With its awkwardly realistic dialogue, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is funny and incredibly moving.

Top 5 Worst Films of 2015

5. Adult Beginners– A less funny and messy version of The Skeleton Twins.

4. Jupiter Ascending– What a waste of perfectly good special effects.

3. Aloha– What a waste of a perfectly good cast.

2. Hot Pursuit– Still wondering why Reese Witherspoon was an accomplice to this crime.

1. By the Sea– What the f***!?!?

 

 

Interview: Director Kevin MacDonald talks “Black Sea”

Black Sea tells the story of Robinson (Jude Law), a submarine captain who, in order to make good with his former employers, takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.

We got a chance to sit down with the Academy Award winning director, Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland), to discuss his latest film.

Besides the fear of being at the bottom of the ocean, these men are also kind of thinking about this money that they are about to find.  And some of them aren’t too happy about the fact that they have to do the even split, even though it would still be plenty of money. What do you think it is about money that changes people and makes them act in psychotic ways?

“Yeah I mean; I think the center of this movie is sort of what greed can do to people.  And not even so much what money can do to people, ‘cause it’s not sort of anti-money in this film.  It’s sort of anti-greed, I suppose.  And it’s the idea that, people, instead of realizing when you’ve got enough, it’s like I always want more.  I want more and more!  And that’s kind of part of human nature.  That kind of dark part of human nature, isn’t it?  Yeah, it’s the positive and negative of human nature, both present in this extreme circumstance.”

This was probably one of my favorite roles to see Jude Law in as Robinson.  I really felt for his character, especially, with him losing his family to his job.  Because I think in any work that you do, you can get wrapped up in it and kind of lose sight of the ones you love.

“I think that’s exactly, that’s the sort of central theme I suppose.  And it’s a very simple one really of this movie.  Is that we all kind of think that our jobs are so important; that we only get respect from other people, because of whether we’re successful in our jobs and all these sort of things.  And the pressure that there is to be successful to earn money, but actually when all is said and done; that’s not what’s important about life.  And at the end of our lives none of us are going to think, “oh I wish I had spent more time at the office.”  We’re going to think, “I wish had spent more time with my family.  I wish I loved that person more, and made that relationship work.”  Those are the things that you’ve got to think about.  And I guess that’s what’s fundamentally at the heart of this movie.”

I mean for me, the moment they entered the water; I was on the edge of my seat.  I was just terrified the whole time.  So, is there another film for you that has given you that same excitement while watching?

“I mean, I think Gravity has that feeling for me.  You know pretty much as soon as the movie starts, and you’re in this precarious situation space walking with Sandra Bullock. You’re terrified.  And you’ve got vertigo (laughs), and yeah, I think this is sort of the underwater version of that.”

Yeah, it is. It gave me the same effect actually, because I struggled to breathe in both those films.

“(Laughs) So there’s a good recommendation.  If you want to struggle to breathe, go and see this movie!”

Click Here for Video Interview

Black Sea opens in select theaters January 30.

Predicting the Winners: 86th Academy Awards

BEST PICTURE

“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “The Wolf of Wall Street”
            

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Could Win: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Want to Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
            

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Want to Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Will still be happy for McConaughey)
          

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Could Win: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Want to Win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
          

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Will Win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
           

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”’
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska.”

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Want to Win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
           

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight”
Billy Ray, “Captain Phillips”
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, “Philomena”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, “Philomena”
Want to Win: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
           

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Spike Jonze, “Her”
Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”

Will Win: Spike Jonze, “Her”
Could Win: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Want to Win: Spike Jonze, “Her”
           

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Frozen”
“The Wind Rises”

Will Win: “Frozen”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Frozen”
            

BEST DOCUMENTARY

“The Act of Killing”
”Cutie and the Boxer”
”Dirty Wars”
”The Square”
”20 Feet from Stardom”

Will Win: “20 Feet from Stardom”
Could Win: “The Act of Killing”
Want to Win: “20 Feet from Stardom”
           

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“The Missing Picture,” Cambodia
“Omar,” Palestine

Will Win: “The Great Beauty,” Italy
Could Win: “The Hunt,” Denmark
Want to Win: “The Great Beauty,” Italy
           

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her,” Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.

Will Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Could Win: “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.
Want to Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
           

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Book Thief,” John Williams
“Gravity,” Steven Price
“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman

Will Win: “Gravity,” Steven Price
Could Win: “Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
Want to Win: “Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
           

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“American Hustle”
”The Grandmaster”
”The Great Gatsby”
”The Invisible Woman”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “American Hustle”
Want to Win: “The Great Gatsby”
           

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

“American Hustle”
”Gravity”
”The Great Gatsby”
”Her”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “Her”
           

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Iron Man 3″
”The Lone Ranger”
”Star Trek Into Darkness”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST FILM EDITING

“American Hustle”
”Captain Phillips”
”Dallas Buyers Club”
”Gravity”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Grandmaster”
”Gravity”
”Inside Llewyn Davis”
”Nebraska”
”Prisoners”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Prisoners”
           

BEST SOUND EDITING

“All Is Lost”
”Captain Phillips”
”Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Lone Survivor”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Captain Phillips”
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST SOUND MIXING

“Captain Phillips”
”Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Inside Llewyn Davis”
”Lone Survivor”

Will Win: “Lone Survivor” (Just to mix things up?)
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “Captain Phillips”
           

BEST MAKE UP & HAIRSTYLING

“Dallas Buyers Club”
”Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
”The Lone Ranger”

Will Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: ”Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
Want to Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
            

BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“CaveDigger”
”Facing Fear”
”Karama Has No Walls”
”The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
”Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Blind Guess: ”The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
            

BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

“Feral”
”Get a Horse!”
”Mr. Hublot”
”Possessions”
“Room on the Broom”

Blind Guess: “Get a Horse!”
           

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
”Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
”Helium”
”Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
”The Voorman Problem”

Blind Guess: “The Voorman Problem”

We will see how many of my predictions are right…Watch the 86th Academy Awards Sunday, March 2, 2014-7pm ET on ABC.  Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres!

North Texas Film Critics Association announces their BEST of 2013

At their annual meeting today, the North Texas Film Critics Association announced their BEST of 2013.

The ballots were carefully counted and the results are as follows:

BEST OF 2013

BEST PICTURE: Gravity

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón/Gravity

BEST ACTOR: Chiwetel Ejiofer/12 Years a Slave

BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock/Gravity

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto/Dallas Buyers Club

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence/American Hustle

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki/Gravity

BEST ANIMATED: Frozen

BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM  TIE: The Grandmaster and Blue is the Warmest Color

 

The NTFCA will shortly launch a FACEBOOK page and notifications will be sent out when that occurs!  Stay tuned.

Top 10 Best Films of 2013

I have to say this was by far the toughest list I have had to make. 2013 proved to be one of the BEST years for film! I’m aware that I didn’t pick some obvious masterpieces, but that’s not because they weren’t as good as the other films I chose. With so many great films, I just had to go with which ones always stayed in my mind every week. I’ll keep it short and sweet as to why the films below have made my top 10 list!

Side Note: I have not yet seen “Her,” “In A World…,” “August: Osage County” or “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

gravity10. “Gravity”

The best way to sum up “Gravity” is “breath-taking!” The visual effects are the best I have seen in any film. If you were to tell me they shot the movie in space, I would believe it. For now, I will assume that this is what space looks like. Sandra Bullock carries the film; you feel as if you are practically tethered to the space suit with her. Alfonso Cuarón has taken a terrifying thought and turned it into a captivating, 90-minute mission of endurance.

the-wolf-of-wall-street-poster copy9. “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Director Martin Scorsese has teamed up with Leonardo Dicaprio once again to make their most hilarious and best film yet! The film is three hours long, but moves quickly because of how fast paced each scene plays out. Regardless of the time, you are blown away by the unforgettable performance DiCaprio delivers.

kings_of_summer_ver48. “The Kings of Summer”

A fantastic coming-of-age story anyone can relate to: three friends build their own secret house in the woods to gain independence and escape their suffocating parents. Nick Robinson finally gets a chance to prove he is more than just the dim-witted brother from the ABC Family series, “Melissa & Joey.” The film is funny, emotional and nostalgic for anyone who grew up watching some of the best coming-of-age films in the ’80s and early ’90s.

twelve_years_a_slave7. “12 Years a Slave”

I don’t think this one needs any explaining— just watch the film. It is easily the best ensemble cast of the year. “12 years a Slave” features breakout performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o. Not to mention Michael Fassbender’s most disturbing and brilliant role since 2011′s “Shame.” This film is a sure to be an Oscar contender for Best Picture and a possible winner!

frozen_ver86. “Frozen”

You might as well give this film the Oscar for Best Animated Feature right now. All the wonderful things you have been hearing about it is true. It’s nice to know Disney can still produce films that give audiences the “Disney Magic” feeling. Already considered a Disney classic, “Frozen” features one of the best soundtracks of the year, including the fantastic original song, “Let it Go,” performed by Idina Menzel.

hunger_games_catching_fire_ver325. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

“Catching Fire” is in every way better than the first “Hunger Games.” The acting and directing is better. There is more character development and much more chemistry between Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and both her love interests, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth). It’s an exciting and fun action adventure that you can’t get enough of.

rush4. “Rush”

This film is so much more than race cars and sex. The rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) brings out more than just a competition on the track. It is amazing to see how much an “enemy” can impact your life— for the good and bad. Hemsworth and Brühl give amazing performances and director Ron Howard shows us once again he can take a simple, true story and turn it into a cinematic masterpiece.

short_term_twelve3. “Short Term 12″

You may not have even heard of this film, but it is absolutely worth looking up and watching. Brie Larson gives a phenomenal Oscar-worthy performance (chances are she could get snubbed this year). “Short Term 12″ is a raw and revealing drama that shows the gut-wrenching perspective of neglected youths.

prisoners_ver32. “Prisoners”

I wish this film would have gotten more praise than it has. The acting alone was incredible, especially Hugh Jackman. I know it is up against stiff competition, but it is high on my list for good reason. It’s the details in “Prisoners” that make this film so exciting to watch. Besides being on the edge of your seat and dying to find out what happened to these kids, you’re filled with important facts that will eventually all tie together in the end. “Prisoners” falls right there with films like “Gone Baby Gone” and “Mystic River”: a gloomy, exciting mystery with an original, satisfying ending.

way_way_back1. “The Way, Way Back”

Think way, way back in July, when you might have seen a preview for this film. Sadly, my favorite film of the year was probably seen by very few. I will admit the dark comedy genre is usually my preference, but it’s the message in this film that has stuck with me all year. I think we all have met that person that has made us doubt ourselves, and lead us to believe we aren’t as special as we think we are. Most of the characters in this film feel they need someone’s seal of approval to be happy with the person they are; thinking that there is some sort of norm that we must follow to fit in. “The Way, Way Back” teaches us that, what makes us truly happy in life is the path we create for ourselves.

Honorable Mentions: “The Dallas Buyers Club,” “This is the End,” “About Time,” “Don Jon,” “Enough Said,” “The Spectacular Now,” and “Captain Phillips.”

Bottom 5: “Getaway,” “The Counselor,” “The Big Wedding,” “Kick-Ass 2″ and “Spring Breakers.”

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com