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Top 10 Best Films of 2021

10. West Side Story (2021)

I didn’t think we needed a remake of “West Side Story.” Turns out we needed Steven Spielberg’s remake! I’ll admit, at the start of the film I was thinking “What is happening?” I didn’t appreciate what the choreography was saying right away. But about 15 minutes into the movie, I was hooked. Spielberg created a beautiful musical with a modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale that’s sadly still relevant.

9. Pig

“Pig” is the sleeper hit that has stayed with me since viewing it earlier this year. The film follows a truffle hunter (Nicolas Cage) who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness, but must return to Portland in search of his beloved, stolen, truffle pig. I didn’t know much going into this movie, but I was quickly reminded of what a talented actor Nicolas Cage is. Even though he’s had some questionable roles, “Pig” solidifies him as one of the greats. I love the simplicity of the story, and the power behind all the performances; especially, Alex Wolff, who plays opposite Cage. You’d expect this film to go full on “John Wick”, but instead it’s more of a subtle human, drama of a man living with regret and grief.  

8. A Hero

Over the years, director Asghar Farhadi has tried to create empathy between audiences and the characters he writes. In his newest film, “A Hero”, we follow Rahim (Amir Jadidi) – A man who was in prison for unpaid debt. During his two-day leave he tries to end his prison time, but things get a little out of hand. “A Hero” is another fantastic piece of work by Farhadi. He continues to keep audiences on the edge of their seat as he constructs an intricate story that powerfully showcases manipulation through social media

7. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is another notch in the Marvel belt of quality superhero movies with fleshed out characters and heartfelt stories. In this film, Shang Chi has been secretly going by the name Shawn (Simu Liu), and spending most of his time with his best friend, Katy (Awkwafina), as a valet in San Francisco. But when they are unexpectedly attacked by his father’s terrorist organization, the Ten Rings, he is forced to return to his old home, and confront the past he so desperately tried to run away from. The film provides a well-thought-out storyline with an emotional backstory. It stuns visually with its seamless choreography and electrifying special effects. It is also the Asian-inspired action flick audiences have been needing to see as Disney continues to successfully showcase diversity and inclusion in their productions.  

6. Don’t Look Up

When two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) discover a comet will soon destroy the Earth, they try everything they can to warn the world and prevent the destruction. But for some reason, people won’t take it seriously. What was intended to be a social commentary on climate change, happens to also relate to our current pandemic and how society chooses to deal with or ignore a global issue. Director/writer Adam McKay creates a hilarious script featuring an all-star, talented cast. The film is timely, terrifying, and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a comical cautionary tale everyone should watch. 

5. The Last Duel

I have no idea why this film didn’t get more award attention! Jodie Comer at the very least deserves a nomination. “The Last Duel” is based on a true story set in France during the 14th century. Sir Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) accuses Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) of raping his wife, Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer), and challenges him to a duel to the death. Damon and Ben Affleck reunite to write a gripping tale told from three different perspectives. With their words and Ridley Scott’s masterful vision, “The Last Duel” is a painful, but important reminder of the #MeToo survivors.

4. The Mitchells vs the Machines

“Mitchell’s vs the Machines was one of my early favorites of 2021. It follows Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), a teenager who has felt like an outcast most of her life and spends a lot of her time making funny videos. She’s lost the bond she once had with her father (Danny McBride), and is looking forward to going away for college. But, in an effort to rebuild their relationship, Katie’s dad plans a last-minute family road trip. Unfortunately, this bumpy ride finds the Mitchells in the middle of a robot apocalypse, and they become humanity’s last hope. “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” is original, clever, funny, touching, and an absolute blast. This is a movie both kids and adults will connect with and enjoy.  Though Katie and her dad have had their arguments, the entire family has drifted apart by burying themselves in their electronics. Katie’s mom, Linda (Maya Rudolph), is obsessed with other families’ online personas; admiring a life she wished she had. And her brother is obsessed with everything dinosaurs. Rick is the only one in the family who hates technology and enjoys more of the outdoors. It’s enough to make you think twice before pulling out your phones when you’re spending time with your family.  

3. Our Friend

Before I gush about this film, I’m sure some of my colleagues are wondering why a movie that qualified for awards in 2020 is on my top 10 list for 2021. Well, I first saw “Our Friend” in January this year and if you check the official US theatrical release date (not TIFF or other festivals), it opened on January 22, 2021. Moving on! “Our Friend” is an incredibly moving, true story that still brings me to tears when I talk about it. Matt (Casey Affleck) and Nicole (Dakota Johnson) are a loving couple with two daughters; but when they discover Nicole has ovarian cancer, they struggle to keep their life together. When their best friend, Dane (Jason Segel) hears of the tragic news, he decides to put his own life on hold and be there for the whole family. As many times as I have seen a story about losing a loved one from cancer, I have never seen one told like this. Even though it seemed as though Dane was helping Matt and Nicole during a difficult time, in actuality, they were saving him. I think we can all relate to feeling as though a friend may not care as much as you do when you’re sick, or when you just want to feel valued. This is a beautiful portrayal of a mutually loving friendship, and the powerful affect it can have on your life.

2. Spider-Man: No Way Home

I can still remember how I felt when I first saw “Spider-Man” (2002) in theaters. I got chills, my jaw dropped a few times, and I could not stop thinking about what I had just seen. As time went on, we got more Spider-Man movies and different Spider-Man actors. I truly enjoyed them all, some more than others. But never did I think I would be treated to such a theatrical experience in 2021. I’m scared to share any details, because for those who have yet to watch, it’s best to know nothing about the plot. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” weaves together decades of characters we loved and hated to honor a true hero. Tom Holland gives his best performance to date. The film is a nostalgic gift to fans as it engages us in laughter, pulls at our heartstrings, revisits the past, and gives us hope for the future.  

1. King Richard

This probably comes as no surprise as I have raved about this movie since I first saw it. I’ve seen it 3 times, and each time I fall more in love with it. “King Richard” breaks the mold of a formulaic sports biopic. There’s a lot to learn from this film. Though it’s about the Williams sisters’ journey to greatness, it’s also a character study on a flawed man. Richard (Will Smith) is overbearing, selfish, and hard-headed. But he’s also humble, kind, and a loving father. Yes, he wants his daughters to go to Wimbledon, but his first priority for them is to do well in school and enjoy being kids. He also teaches them the importance of good sportsmanship and never forgetting where you came from.

The Best of the Rest:

11. Licorice Pizza

12. Cruella

13. Raya and the Last Dragon

14. The Lost Daughter

15. A Quiet Place Part II

16. Lady of the Manor

17. The Novice

18. House of Gucci

19. Mass

20. Language Lessons

Top 5 Worst Films of 2021

5. Without Remorse – Like a bad date with a good looking person.

4. Space Jam: A New Legacy – Do yourself a favor, just re-watch the original film and forget this exists.

3. Things Heard and Seen – What the actual hell?

2. The Comeback Trail – Luckily, for this all-star cast, most people didn’t know this ever came out.

1. Halloween Kills – An all around joke of a movie that wasn’t funny or fun.

Trevor’s Top 10

10. The Green Knight
9. Candyman
8. No Time to Die
7. The Suicide Squad
6. Don’t Look Up
5. King Richard
4. Pig
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
2. Bo Burnham: Inside
1. Our Friend

Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards

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Best Picture:

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

Best Director:

  • Adam McKay – The Big Short
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
  • Lenny Abramson – The Room
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
  • Ridley Scott – The Martian

Best Actor:

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Matt Damon – The Martian
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Best Actress:

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy – The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
  • Sylvester Stallone – Creed
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen – Bridge of Spies
  • Alex Garland – Ex Machina
  • Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmin – Inside Out
  • Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
  • Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Berloff –Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
  • Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short
  • Drew Goddard – The Martian
  • Phyllis Nagy – Carol
  • Emma Donoghue – Room

Best Animated Feature Film:

  • Anomalisa
  • Inside Out
  • Boy and the World
  • Shaun of the Sheep
  • When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Mustang
  • A War
  • Son of Saul
  • Theeb

Best Documentary — Feature:

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Documentary — Short Subject:

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Last Day of Freedom
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Best Live Action Short Film:

  • Day One
  • Everything Will Be Okay
  • Stutterer
  • Ave Maria
  • Shok

Best Animated Short Film:

  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • An Object at Rest
  • If I Was God…
  • Bear Story
  • World of Tomorrow

Best Original Score:

  • The Hateful Eight
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol

Best Original Song:

  • “Earned It” – 50 Shades of Gray
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre
  • “Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” – Youth
  • “Till it Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground

Best Sound Editing:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing:

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl

Best Cinematography:

  • Edward Lachman – Carol
  • Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight
  • John Seale – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant
  • Roger Deakins – Sicario

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

Best Costume Design:

  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Best Film Editing:

  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Visual Effects:

  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ex Machina
  • The Martian

The Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock for the second time, will be held on Feb. 28 and air live on ABC.

Interview: Evan Ross & Wes Chatham talk “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 2”

The wildly successful “Hunger Game” franchise concludes with the much-anticipated finale, “Mockingjay Part Two.” I sat down with stars Evan Ross (son of Diana Ross) and Wes Chatham (The Help) about the climatic finale.

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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.

Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Burns Brighter than the First

If for some reason you thought Jennifer Lawrence would get lazy or dial it back a bit after her Oscar win last year, you would be incredibly wrong.  If anything, she’s proving that she would be worthy of many more!

Now I loved the first Hunger Games, but Catching Fire is in every way better than the first.  The actors seem more mature and comfortable.  There is more character development and much more chemistry between Katniss and both of her love interests, Peeta and Gale.  And overall the directing was better.

In the second installment of the Hunger Games franchise, Katniss has returned home to District 12 after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta.  As Katniss and Peeta are about to start a victory tour around the country, President Snow pays her a visit.  He explains that when she defied the Capitol by breaking the rules so that she and Peeta could both survive the last Hunger Games, she inspired rebellions in the districts.  Now she must continue to pretend to be in love with Peeta, or her family will be killed.  The two play along well and keep up the charade to avoid any conflict with Snow.  However, after Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch save Gale during a dispute with the Commander, Snow becomes angry over a “once again” defiance.

Snow announces that the 75th Hunger Games will be the Quarter Quell, meaning a new rule will be added to the games.  In an attempt to show the Capitol is still powerful, the new rule states that existing victors from each district much compete again!

This film allows us to get to know all the characters a lot better.  It was nice to see Effie as part of the Katniss team along with Peeta and Haymich.    Stanley Tucci as Caasar still makes for some great comic relief.  And thank you Jena Malone, who plays the blunt Johanna Mason, for continuously saying what everyone in the theater was thinking.  The best thing about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is how you could feel every emotion Katniss was feeling.  Whether it was the reminder of Rue’s death, or even the love she feels for Peeta and Gale.  Whatever the emotion, she nailed it and it will be the reason that you may tear up at multiple times through out the film.

Though the premise may sound like a repeat of the first film, it’s not.  They are heading in a completely different direction, and with a more central focus of “remembering who the real enemy is.”  With the films just picking up right where they left off, the build up has audiences anticipating something big.

It is an absolute must see for everyone, even if you haven’t read the books (like me).  I assure you it is a film that not only entertains visually and mentally, but it accomplishes one of the main reasons I love film; an escape from the stress of our lives.  Catching Fire might just be one of the best films of the year so far!

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in theaters now!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Official Theatrical Trailer HD

Movie Review: “The Starving Games” Is A Surprisingly Funny Spoof

I had given up on watching any more parody films after Meet the Spartans.  They were starting to become more about product placement and celebrity bashing instead of maintaining a story-line and making fun of the actual film.  The Starving Games made me remember why I enjoyed films like Scary Movie and Not Another Teen Movie.

In this Hunger Games parody, Kantmiss Evershot (Maiara Walsh) volunteers herself to save her sister, Petunia (Kennedy Hermansen), from fighting in the 75th annual Starving Games.  Kantmiss must fight for her life along with her secret admirer, Peter Malarky (Cody Christen) in order to win an old ham, a coupon for a Subway foot-long, and a partially eaten pickle.  All while a jealous Dale (Brant Daughtery) watches the action on the big screen.

There are a slew of other films that are poked at in this movie including, Harry Potter, OZ the Great and Powerful, and The Avengers.  Believe it or not, their appearances do not come off completely random.  Therefore, it is actually funny.

Pretty Little Liars’ fans will be happy to see the supporting actors of their teen drama, play leading men, as Dale and Peter.   Overall, this was a good comedic cast.  Especially, Maiara Walsh who bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence.  I particularly loved the portrayal of Peter as an exaggerated coward.

The Starving Games is probably more satisfying as a rental.  But if you have seen The Hunger Games, the spoof is worth the laughs.

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.

The Starving Games hits theaters November 8th.

The Starving Games Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com