The Photograph

Look at this photograph…movie! Hopefully doesn’t make me laugh. It’s supposed to be serious, how did we come to this?

Okay, for The Photograph I don’t know anything about it technically. I don’t know the main woman lead. I only know the director, Stella Meghie, did Everything, Everything and I didn’t like the ending.

But, I do know who LaKeith Stanfield, who has been really solid these last few years, which is reason enough for me to be excited. If its a good romance, I will hopefully cry as well.


Oh this one has a red room as well?
Our movie tells two stories, in the 80’s and in the modern day.

Our past story involves Christina (Chante Adams). She grew up relatively poor, enjoying picture taking. Her mom was mad at her youth and freedom, and seemed to disown her just for wanting to live her life. She loved Issac (Y’Lan Noel), and they were gonna grow old together, but he never wanted to leave Louisiana like Christina did, and that made them incompatible. She moved to New York, started a family, and became a great photographer.

In our modern time, we have Michael (Lakeith Stanfield), a reporter for something, who gets to take a long time on his articles. Nice. Not given the shit work. As part of a feature, he meets Issac (Rob Morgan), old now, and learns about Christina who has since died, and meets Christina’s daughter, Mae (Issa Rae) while looking for her art. And sure enough, they find that connection.

The story is about love, its future and past, and how the simplest things can change your life.

Also starring Chelsea Peretti, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lil Rey Howery, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Courtney B. Vance.


Staring at necks when people don’t see me is also my fetish.
The Photograph is two tales of romance, and it seems they need two tales because neither can stand well on its own feet. Two stories that are related by a single lady. Our past story is relatively basic, as they only flashback just a few times. It is needed for the main story, sure, but it isn’t the type of romance that one will walk out of and talk about how wonderful or tragic it feels. It just feels…basic.

Our modern romance story is a bit more interesting. Adding in new jobs versus new romances, getting over exes, and finding someone that is compatible vs maybe just lustful.

I like the acting from Stanfield and Rae a lot. I particularly enjoy that their stories made them seem like just regular people. It didn’t get bogged down in anything except for their relationships with each other (and for Mae, the relationship with her parents).

But it is a story with very little happening, very little of a conclusion. Decent acting saves a story that just won’t be memorable in a few months.

2 out of 4.

Downhill

A lot of people love Force Majeure. Haven’t heard about it? Well, in the magical year of 2014, before all of this mess we are in, it was released in France. It won some awards, received a lot of praise, but did it win an Oscar for Best Foreign Film? Nope. Hell it wasn’t even nominated. And unless a foreign film can win both the Oscar for Foreign Film and Best Picture, should we really care about it?

Now most films aren’t Parasite, which means most films are going to get remade at some point.

Downhill is a remake of Force Majeure, with out the subtitles and who knows what else is different. Will it be more of a slapstick? Will there be a ridiculous scream with the avalanche? Will we get to see man butt?

Force Majeure was a really good movie, and I am hoping before seeing it that Downhill is as well.

chhers
If anything we can get some sweet mountain shots out of it.

Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) are a married couple with a couple of kids (Julian Grey, Ammon Jacob Ford) and the romance is on the lower end. Hopefully this very expensive and nice trip to Europe to go skiiing for a week will kick things off with each other. Bring their sexy back. Also, Pete is grieving about his dad dying earlier in the year, so there is that too.

Things start off fine. Their boys complain and argue, but whatever. They got a lot of fun stuff planned. However, when sitting outside to eat lunch at a restaurant, a controlled explosion happens bringing down some snow. An avalanche! And it is a bit scary to watch it coming towards them. Is it dangerous? Or will it be fine?

Well, when others begin freaking out they make their choices. Pete grabs his phone and runs away. Billie is left at the table with her kids and brings them down thinking her husband left them there to die.

And this sort of event unless dealt with right away will probably just build up over time. Like snow on a mountain. And eventually these feelings will avalanche down.

Also starring Kristofer Hivju, Miranda Otto, Zoe Chao, and Zach Woods.

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“The cowardice is palatable.” – Billie, probably. 
Having to compare a movie to what it is based on can be hard. But int his case it is pretty easy.

Force Majeure is a good movie, Downhill is a bad movie, and it is sad to admit that.

In terms of what worked really, really well, we had Louis-Dreyfuss giving a great performance here. Her facial expressions, her outbursts, her confusion about her shitty husband. Her freak out before the helicopter was a good one and warranted.

In this film, they made Pete/Ferrell way more unbearable and the bad guy. I felt like we had some gray area in the first one. He was still clearly wrong, but they balanced it out eventually, sort of, and he wasn’t a complete dick. Pete was someone I wish would have ran from the avalanche and literally just never came back. That would have made this a good remake, deal with that awkwardness.

This remake is shorter, rushes through some of the emotional turmoil, but still includes a bit of the awkward for some discomfort in your seats.

1 out of 4.

Best of the Decade – Part 5 (10-1)

10) The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014

Why? Wes Anderson is a director that took me a long time to appreciate. I didn’t really know much about him and his earlier work, but wasn’t a fan when I was younger. After Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was a fan, and it took a couple more to bring me to this one which made me fall in love with its insides.

After seeing it for the first time I have seen other films he did, still not all of them, and this is just the most spectacular to me. A larger cast, full of oddballs, love, and life lessons. And hell, the main character is not a great man, but Ralph Fiennes goes completely into this hotel madman and leaves nothing behind.

It is a film that is visually stunning and funny enough that it is easy to revisit over and over again with similar tummy bellows.

Favorite moment? The punch outs.

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9) La La Land 2016

Why? Musicals are hard to make and hard to make well. Slap some songs in a movie and we don’t always fall in love. Have choreography? Who cares, so do music videos. I need a good story, I need acting, and I need songs to move the story forward and not feel awkward.

La La Land feels like an attempt to make a more low key realistic musical, while still having the same show stopping type numbers. The first couple of songs in it are full on flash and color, but after that, we get our slower song for both leads to dance, and then it slows the hell down. It lets them breath, we get our main theme with reprises and add-ons, and it lets the story work.

I feel like I get the best of the both worlds, along with an ending I can hate while still respecting at the same time. Gosling and Stone, you are beautiful people who keep coupling in our movies. Thank you for that. This is my favorite musical of the decade. 

Favorite moment? Another Day of Sun.

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8) The Social Network 2010

Why? Here is a film a lot of people have called the best of the decade, and it is a wonder that it came out at the start of the decade. It is a film many say should have won Best Picture and are still annoyed by that fact today. And I get it, I love it too.

We combine David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, so of course we get some amazing creation they can call their own. Add in a great score, actors who were sort of just coming into the game, and some boy band experience, and it is a hard film to top.

It still feels timely, and likely will be for quite a long while given how little our online interactions have actually changed. It is the type of film that I feel I will always be down to watch, and was peak Eisenberg (but thankfully not peak Garfield or Hammer).

Favorite moment? The ousting of Eduardo.

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7) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World 2010

Why? A lot of this list could be seen as “What films does this guy think are better than The Social Network from the 2010s?” And I will do you one better. What film from 2010 itself do I think is better? Scott Pilgrim, that’s what!

I will say this is a film where I had read all of the source material before the film, and it completely delivered six books in one film. You know, the type of thing books try to avoid since then. They wanna stretch it out. Edgar Wright instead filled it with action, game references, and totally captured the nature of the graphic novel. Sure, a lot is missing, and that is okay.

This is a stone soup of younger actors and actresses to piece together this strange story that is really just a complicated metaphor that tells us that people have baggage. Relationships are hard. And it can be difficult to let things go that have helped define us up to that point. And its funny. This is my favorite comedy AND comic book movie of the decade. 

Favorite moment? CASUAL SEX! Okay, that’s the book. The Chris Evans and Vegan fights.

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6) Warrior 2011

Why? And now onto more serious things. I didn’t hear about Warrior until it was coming out on DVD as a recommendation from my brother. I wasn’t expecting anything, just another “boxing movie” but instead I got an extremely heartfelt story about two brothers, no longer in each other’s lives, both overcoming their own hardships and difficulties in life to do what they do best. Fight.

I will admit I don’t really like Nick Nolte in most films the last 20 years, but him being a hard to decipher mess of a human actually works for this movie. One of my favorite aspects of this film is that this basically introduced me to Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy in movies, and they have continued to show why they are both highly sought after actors.

UFC is new to the sports world still, and it found a way to take what would normally be just a boxing story and change things up, with different styles mirroring their lives and attitudes. And of course, when I see the ending, I cry every time. This is my favorite sports movie of the decade. 

Favorite moment? The four second fight, the final fight, the Marines song.

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5) Nightcrawler 2014

Why? Another film I never got to see in theaters, and I blame poor advertising on that. I blame the advertising on its lack of awards as well, because Jake Gyllenhaal should have been nominated and won those acting awards for his scary portrayal.

This film takes morals and completely throws them out of the window. Gyllenhaal rarely blinks and talks in a charismatic rapey way like he was born to be that person. But hell, Gyllenhaal has been one of the most consistent actors this decade, so it makes sense.

Nightcrawler is unsettling and questions our fascination with the news and what people want to see and hear. If anything, it predicted what people have started to do with features like YouTube/Facebook Live when it comes to unthinkable crimes, and hopefully if enough people see it and take its messages to heart, we can put to end to this nonsense. So, probably never. This is my favorite Thriller of the decade. 

Favorite moment? The home invasion and fallout.

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4) The Perks of Being A Wallflower 2012

Why? When I saw this film in theaters, I remember just sitting there in the theater, watching regular credits with music blasting, and finding myself unable to get up and leave. I had to deal with the emotions and thoughts running through my head. I had to wipe away tears and make sure I wasn’t a wreck of a man walking into the lobby. I noticed the few people in the theater were also not getting up right away. It seemed like a universal feeling.

What starts out as a story about a loner who wants to be accepted but is too introverted and shy to get out there turns into something bigger. Coming out of your shell is risky, and so is accepting others into your life. But even if we bring others in, there is still a lot hiding under the surface that they can never know about, to know what you are going through and subconsciously dealing with at all times..

The reveal about our protagonist and his past comes along shockingly, but when rewatching the film the hints are right there. Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller are great leads, and Emma Watson in this film helps break out of her Harry Potter sphere. It is so well acted with a kicking soundtrack, it should be a staple of its genre for hopefully decades to come dealing with timeless problems. This is my favorite coming of age story of the decade. 

Favorite moment? Truth or dare.

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3) Colossal 2017

Why? Colossal is a hard film to fit into any genre. It is a film that has plot holes and doesn’t try to explain all of its quirks. And that can rub people the wrong way.

But when taken as a larger metaphor for emotional abuse and substance abuse, and trying to overcome these issues with your body and past, it is a shining example of how someone can feel. Full of depression and anger in their own lives, it sometimes feels like there is a monster inside of them that is destroying others. And that can be literal if the monster completely consumes the individual.

Thankfully, this movie also offers hope. And I love that the answer isn’t just another man or a relationship. It is about fixing yourself and not relying on others to handle your problems for you.

Anne Hathaway I enjoy in most films, and she feels very vulnerable in this film Jason Sudeikis I also love, but plays the bad guy in a creepily realistic way. The twists and turns are wonderful. This is my favorite…uhh…fantasy film (?) of the year. Maybe romance? I don’t know. 

Favorite moment? The introduction of the Robot.

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2) Arrival 2016

Why? In 2016, this movie was the third on my list, right a different Amy Adams movie and a musical, and in those years since I have realized that Arrival is the better film. At this point I was more familiar with Denis Villeneuve and still blown away with the story put together in this film. Sure, it is based on a story, but the visual work and cinematography, and the alien design and the ORDER this story gives is mind blowing. It is a mind blowing film.

Amy Adams is probably the best actress of the decade. Just look at the number of nominations, the quality of films she has been in year after year, even the more silly and family friendly roles are above the curve. And I don’t think she has ever been better.

This film is a major gut punch when the whole story gets revealed and told and deals with a complicated timeline, but not shying away from complicated stories is a good thing. When we get original stories that don’t feed you through a straw the plot, we need to reward them and celebrate them. This is my favorite science fiction film of the decade. 

Favorite moment? The death of the alien.

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1) Steve Jobs 2015

Why? And finally, the shocking moment, the one that will make people say huh. But probably not people who know me. When I made my top of 2015 list it made 4th, with the two above it not making my top of the decade, and the other one being The Big Short, further down this list. So HOW could a film like this move all the way up to my number one spot?

First of all, repeatability. Since I bought the film I have seen it probably twice a year always on a whim. I get a feeling, I want to see Steve Jobs again, so I do it. It being a film in three acts that mirror each other and grow is a rewarding watch, to see the connections, to connect it to history, to see how people grow.

Secondly, I can still tear up usually near the end each and every time. Having it be about a very mean and modern myth filled man, but actually a story about learning to accept your responsibilities as a father? That is a twist, and movies that deal with father/daughter relationships always get me now.

Thirdly, Aaron Goddamn Sorkin. I love the hell out of his dialogue, and the words come out at a pace with such passion that it is like an action movie…with words.

Strangely enough, I am in no way an Apple fan boy. I have had an iPhone for one year before they got rid of the Aux, so I went back to Android. I had an iPod way after they were cool and that is about it. I just can acknowledge that Steve Jobs was an interesting individual and did a lot of good with a lot of bad.

Fassbender should have won best actor over DiCaprio that year. Rogen was great. Winslet completely became a different person. Daniels molded his suave from the Newsroom into something similar, but different. And the other people involved are equally fascinating.

If it wasn’t for the several F-bombs, it is a film I would show my gifted students every year, so they could understand that being smart doesn’t mean one has to be a dick. A play that never was a play, Steve Jobs is my favorite drama, favorite “biopic”, and favorite movie of the decade. 

Favorite moment? It’s not binary.

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Thanks for reading! Hopefully you check out the other parts and can tell me in the top 50 why I am stupid and missed your favorite film, or why you think Steve Jobs isn’t a great film. I might not listen, but I will still “listen.”

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Best of the Decade – Part 4 (20-11)

20) Margin Call 2011

Why? Earlier in the list I already had The Big Short, which talked about the 2008 Crisis in a much different way than Margin Call. Margin Call did it dramatically, with a fake company, to showcase the ineptitude of those at the top, and how they could still screw over other people on the way to trying to save themselves.

I rated this higher featuring some good performances from various actors involved, and just in generally it is really thrilling for such a bland sounding topic.

Favorite moment? The day after.

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19) 1917 2019

Why? You try to pretend your movie is done in one take, and I am going to enjoy it. Flex away your cinematographic and directorial skills to put that together. The story is a simple one, and through it we get to see the realities of the trench, just how much they worked like any movie before.

We see a lot of the biggest aspects of WW1, including the fear, the excessive death, and how hard it was to find an eventual resolution. This is my favorite war movie of the decade. 

Favorite moment? The night time escape.

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18) Baby Driver 2017

Why? Another movie with Kevin Spacey in the same article, ack! This was really hard to place in its original top list, due to scandals, but honestly, I still love this movie very much. Edgar Wright pieced together a high energy film, with a unique soundtrack that made me want to speed down the highway myself. Okay, that’s bad.

But a heist movie where things go bad, the bad guys are various level of bad, and a journey for redemption? What a hero arc.

Favorite moment? Hocus Pocus Focus escape.

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17) Parasite 2019

Why? Come on, of course right? I mean, come on. Many are saying Parasite could be one of the best films of the decade, and there is a lot of reason for that. I often worry about getting caught up in “current year hype” and knowing how well 2019 films compare to the previous 9 is really hard. But I think Parasite is one of those keeper films. This movie will likely be fast tracked to some sort of American remake and it won’t be as good.

Thankfully, this version is so good, without going into too much detail, about Korean class warfare, that it feels universal regardless of where you are from.

Favorite moment? What’s in the basement?

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16) Waves 2019

Why? See above. I don’t know if Waves should be this high, but it was my number one in 2019. I haven’t been able to rewatch it, and don’t know if it has staying power. But like Parasite, it told a classic tale of a rise and fall, but also included the potential rise again after the fact. After tragedy, we need to cope and move on, and Waves makes sure to focus equal attention on that aspect as well.

Beautifully shot and acted, it brought me to tears several times.

Favorite moment? The party aftermath.

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15) Swiss Army Man 2016

Why? This film is one of the greatest and most original films I have seen in my life time. It is bananas to the wall, hell, to the ceiling, complete and utter madness. Paul Dano can practically do no wrongs when it comes to films in his career, and although Daniel Radcliffe is more hit and miss, this one is certainly a high hit for anyone who decides to accept its weird and give it a chance.

If it takes a lot of fart and masturbation jokes to discover what it means to be human, then sign me up for this evolved life.

Favorite moment? The soundtrack.

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14) Les Miserables 2012

Why? No! Not the french remake that isn’t actually based on the book that came out in 2019, the goddamn musical! I had never seen the stage musical before seeing this film and was only slightly familiar with one of the songs, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on that Christmas morning in 2012. This film made me cry four times my first time in theaters, and from that I went on to watch it at least three more times in theaters. It was a day one buy when it hit Blu-Ray and has been seen several times over.

The songs have complexity, and it just hits you over the head over and over about how shitty this time in France was. Time machine? No thank you. And by having the actors sing live for the movie added such a personal touch that can only be recreated in real life.

Favorite moment? One Day More and Javert’s suicide.

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13) Goon 2011

Why? It took a little bit for Goon to leak its way out of Canada into an American release, and I was excited to give it a shot. Little did I know it would become something I needed to see again after watching it by myself. I remember showing it to my dad later the same day due to how ridiculous it was, and funny, and strangely heart felt.

Seann William Scott made his career out of being a lovable idiot, and this role is another iteration of that, which he executes perfectly. An extremely quotable movie at points, it takes some extremes in the sport of hockey without breaking out into a musical.

Favorite moment? The Ross Rhea showdown.

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12) About Time 2013

Why? About Time felt like it would easily fall into “Creepy movie territory” real quick. A romance where the guy can go back and time and just try again until he makes it perfect? No! Rapey! ack! And then despite starting with those elements, they make our hero the perfect gentlemen, going back to help everyone he can, even if it means setting himself back.

And by the end, with the implications of his travels, it is hard to not cry over the relationship he has with his father and the family he has created. It is an incredibly smart film given the stipulations it put into its time travel and how one should try and approach life no matter their circumstances.

Favorite moment? Ping pong.

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11) Blindspotting 2018

Why? My top film of 2018 wasn’t able to make my top ten of the decade, despite being still a great film about an important subject matter. Gentrification is not an easy subject to make a comedy/drama about. So why not two people who have experienced it themselves growing up in radically different ways due to the color of their skin?

Daveed Diggs (who blew up thanks to Hamilton) and real life friend Rafael Casal give an emotionally charged performance in wake up police brutality, harsh sentences, and how felons are treated in our society. 2018 had a lot of social justice films that were top of the line, and this one was just on top of the pile overall.

Favorite moment? Post party arguments.

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Best of the Decade – Part 3 (30-21)

30) The Favourite 2018

Why? While not my favorite movie of the decade, this is my favorite of Yorgos Lanthimos, whom was doing really good in the last few years of the decade. A women centric cast, that is a bit absurd, while having some historical truth, it led to a lot of comedic gold moments that could only happen with a great script and great actresses to carry it all out.

Also, the camera work in this film was atypical, and a bit inspiring.

Favorite moment? Don’t look at me.

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29) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2018

Why? This is my “half” sequel on the list. Technically standalone, but also one of the realities is totally the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, so it takes place after them. Spider-Verse is on this list as my third (and not yet highest) rated animated film because of how blown away I was with the art style.

It offered something unlike any other animated film of that year or recent years, keeping it still feeling like a comic movie, and with stunning fight scenes and humor throughout.

Favorite moment? Alright, let’s start at the beginning.

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28) Sing Street 2016

Why? This is a film I expected almost nothing out of, and should have realized it was something special. The third music centered film by John Carney feels very personal and ends up being more than a strange pre-teen romance film.

It also deals with a strong relationship with brothers and how those older can pave the way for their siblings, taking on more burdens that the younger ones would never realize. And hey, the music is fun too.

Favorite moment? Basically every scene with Jack Reynor.

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27) 12 Years A Slave 2013

Why? 2013 called, it wants its number one movie back. 12 Years A Slave is a hard movie to get through. Torture, near death, and obviously enslavement does not equate to a movie you want to see over and over. Hell, I knew it would take me awhile to rewatch it after I saw it in theaters, and only rewatched it for this list finally, never really getting in that mood again.

Well acted, a terrifying real story, but one that is something I will rarely ever see again in my life.

Favorite moment? Favorite is a bad word here, but the “hanging” scene is the most powerful and shocking.

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26) Hereditary 2018

Why? I do believe Toni Collette was robbed for he performance in this film, and not given anywhere close to enough credit as she deserved. I knew she was a great actress, and this film really cemented it in my mind. A demented film overall, one that builds the fears inside of you overtime and masterfully at that.

Very few “jump” scares but instead an overall sense of dread and wondering how could things get worse or scarier. This is my favorite horror film of the decade. 

Favorite moment? Dinner time.

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25) Whiplash 2014

Why? I don’t know if I need a long paragraph for this one? J. K. Fucking Simmons. There. That’s why.

Favorite moment? Tempo changes.

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24) Kubo and the Two Strings 2016

Why? Kubo is an animated film that tried to give me something I hadn’t seen before. Laika has been pushing the boundaries of their stop-motion films a lot over this decade, and I don’t think anything came out as fresh and stunning as Kubo. Combining characters both big and small, we got a fresh lead with an interesting story, and hell, some scary villains to boot.

It still felt like a good film for the family, despite its darker elements. Honestly, the only thing I hated were the names of the sidekicks. This is my favorite animated film of the decade. 

Favorite moment? The magic origami.

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23) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 2014

Why? Another top film of its year that is getting surpassed by others, I will still attest that Birdman is a wonderful film, start to finish, really no faults. I love everything about it, from the meta casting choices, to the long takes and monologues, to the play within a play. The catchy drum beat that wraps up most of the film keeps it moving and on the edge.

It is a great movie and will be celebrated for a long time.

Favorite moment? Edward Norton.

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22) Gone Girl 2014

Why? Gone Girl is a thriller where the twist is revealed much earlier on than most thrillers. Hell, the twist turns it into almost a completely different movie, and makes it go places that would be very hard to predict. Affleck is wonderful as the distant husband, but Pike really gives a haunting performance, which elevated far past anything I’ve seen her do before. Mostly TV shows, notably.

Because the twist is so early on, it is still a movie worth watching over and over.

Favorite moment? What happened to Amy.

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21) Mad Max: Fury Road 2015

Why? Ah! Many people picked this their top of that year and top of the decade, and I will admit, this is an over the top film unlike almost anything else. The stunt work, the practical effects, the gruesome moments. It is definitely a story that doesn’t hold a lot of equals. And I can acknowledge all of it, and still want more from the actors and plot.

This is the only other sequel on the whole list, which is interesting as this one works very well as a standalone and just uses 1 character.

Favorite moment? The race back.

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Best of the Decade – Part 2 (40-31)

40) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

Why? Besides being a solid A+ on the naming department, the title gives you everything you need to know about it. A movie dealing with teens dealing with death, the awkwardness of friendship and love in general, and how one can face the inevitable.

The Nick Offerman and love of movies in it doesn’t hurt it either.

Favorite moment? The movie reenactments.

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39) Aftershock 2010

Why? Partially picked because of how few people know about this film, Aftershock is one of the first lesser known films I watched that had a great emotional impact on me, and that was when I was still only 21 or so! The hard choice a mother faces can be seen as an allegory to the One-Child policy that China already had.

And the fact that we get to see so much of the events after the earthquake (you know, the Aftershocks) and how it affected so many lives is just heartbreaking.

Favorite moment? Hard to beat the initial earthquake scene.

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38) Life of Pi 2012

Why? Life of Pi, like The Martian, ends up being one of my go-to movies to show the youth of the world as a teacher when we have time, except I try to say it relates to math because of Pi. Life of Pi changed the way CGI worked in films forever, winning plenty of awards along the way because of how aesthetically beautiful it was.

It deals with a lot of hard topics in a way that those young and old can relate to.

Favorite moment? The “real story” being told.

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37) Uncut Gems 2019

Why? My first film from this year on the list (which was very hard to place in the decade, mind you) feels like a reminder that Sandler knows what the hell he is doing with the acting game, he just chooses to phone it in for easy paychecks. This film is an uncomfortable two hours, of people making bad and risky decisions for a payoff that may or may not be worth it.

It is excruciating in all the right ways, and a tense experience that is really hard to create.

Favorite moment? The final bet.

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36) Inside Out 2015

Why? My second animated film on this list, Inside Out hit me like a bag of trucks. First of all, it was led with Lava, which as a short made me cry by itself. But the journey of “emotions having emotions” through the guise of a pre-teen girl was its own a tear-filled experience, at least twice in theaters, and usually again when I watch it on my own or with my family.

It is a wonderfully weird concept, that sure, doesn’t make a lot of sense with scrutiny (see: many Pixar films), but a ride worth taking nonetheless.

Favorite moment? Bing bong bing bong.

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35) The Big Short 2015

Why? What’s this? My number 1 film of 2015 already on the list? That is okay. The Big Short is still wonderful, done in an exciting and informative way, and made me generally smarter about things I didn’t understand well. Hell, it still has good rewatchability. Just maybe that we are farther from the crisis in general, and there are other movies on the subject I like more (spoilers for this list), this felt like a good spot to land.

Adam McKay‘s heel-turn into Oscar nominated films was a shocker and a welcome one at that.

Favorite moment? The celebrity cameos to explain terminology.

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34) Get Out 2018

Why? After working on a whole lot of skits, Jordan Peele realized he knew what was missing in the world, and he gave us Get Out. With Us being good (and not as good), he has cemented himself fully as someone to watch. A lot of films in the late 2010’s deal with racial tensions in America, but almost none as creatively do it as with Get Out, in the guise of a regular horror and creepy film.

It fuses the truth, with horror and comedy to get people in the doors and more importantly, get people talking.

Favorite moment? The hypnotism.

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33) Before Midnight 2013

Why? Before Midnight is the first sequel on this list, and after examining the whole thing, there are only 2, maybe 2 and a half films that are sequels. So this is definitely the only end of a trilogy! The raw emotions that Linklater let these two do, just to talk, about love, and fear, and sadness, and hope. It is inspiring on its own. Add to the difficulty of creating the trilogy in sort of real time with 9 year gaps lets us come back to a couple we adore and want to succeed and cheer for.

There is a chance of a forth film in 2022, but as for now Linklater hasn’t told us anything.

Favorite moment? The argument.

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32) Prisoners 2013

Why? Prisoners is a movie I went in with no expectations, only a trailer, as I didn’t know who Denis Villeneuve was. Turns out, he is a director I love and is featured many times on this list. This is one of those films that really showed me for the first time how good of an actor Gyllenhaal and Dano really are. Already had my assumptions about Jackman.

A long, mystery, dealing with moral ambiguity and a terrifying conclusion. Prisoners changed the way I saw cinema for the next few years.

Favorite moment? Jackman losing it.

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31) Marriage Story 2019

Why? Marriage Story deals with a topic we don’t talk a lot about in films. Divorce! Getting married is easy, keeping it and ending it is harder. Two PHENOMENAL performances from Johansson and Driver, this is done in such a way that there are not too many overall scenes, but it is overall very awkward and sad.

I haven’t reseen the movie, but I have gone out of my way to rewatch various parts and I am able to with ease already knowing the full context. This will be a hard movie for me to rewatch and sit through beginning to end, but definitely one that warrants it at some point in the future.

Favorite moment? The court scene.

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Click here for Part 1 (50-41)!
Click here for Part 3 (30-21)!
Click here for Part 4 (20-11)!
Click here for Part 5 (10-1)!

Best of the Decade – Part 1 (50-41)

Welcome to my top 50 of the decade list! Every day I will do the next group of 10, according to all of the Staff here at Gorgon Reviews, on what we thought was the best of the decade.

We decided to not include documentaries, as they are much harder to compare, but you will see films represented more than one country at least.

50) The Martian 2015

Why? To me this movie is entirely pro-science in a fun and exciting way. We have smart characters, who solve problems by being smart, despite obstacles in their way. Smartness isn’t played as a joke, it is appreciated, and a lot of care went into making most (not all, that is fine) of this movie at least somewhat realistic.

I have seen this movie usually many times just showing it to my students near the end of the year.

Favorite moment? While the ending is very emotional, I enjoy most when they finally get communication up and running.

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49) Chi-Raq 2015

Why? I want to make some statements with a top 50 list, and not be incredibly boring. This movie rolled a few of my jams up in one. Lyrically spoken, it brings back an Ancient Greek play into modern times, to deal with modern problems, and it is dripping with satire.

It gives new light to a problem. It doesn’t actually offer real solutions, but it is still making great points with its power.

Favorite moment? Samuel L. Jackson laying those smooth lines down as the narrator.

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48) 50/50 2011

Why? Coming out earlier in the decade, this felt like the perfect blend of a comedy/drama for me. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more. Joseph Gordon-Levitt really showcased his emotional range and showcased how someone might deal with a surgery that didn’t technically have a favorable outcome. He isn’t in it for the sympathy.

Favorite moment? When his mood shifts right before the surgery. Tears every time.

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47) I, Tonya 2017

Why? I, Tonya does a few things for me. It gives me a very different view of a story that I just had assumptions about (I was 4-5 at the time) and that is likely true about a lot of people. And it also finally let me see Margot Robbie in a different light as an actress that I had never seen before. You know, acting.

Favorite moment? The scenes where Tonya/Jeff’s relationship blossomed into an abuse for all.

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46) Nocturnal Animals 2016

Why? Strangely enough, this movie probably dropped the most out of any film compared to their respective rankings in top of the year lists. For 2016, I had this as my second favorite movie, a harrowing experience I never wanted to experience again.

However, on a rewatch, it is still extremely well acted and an interesting movie, but without the surprising fear elements, it didn’t sustain as much interest.

Favorite moment? It still has to be the highway scene.

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45) August: Orange County 2013

Why? Take an all-star cast of incredible actors, have them act a popular play, and sure enough, we will get emotions and wonderful acting. I hadn’t heard of this play before hand, so it was shock to me when I realized what was going on.

Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep are wonderful together, in that they bring out each other’s worsts.

Favorite moment? Hard to beat the dinner scene as it brings everyone together and everything full front.

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44) The Greatest Showman 2017

Why? Honestly, I loved this movie when I saw it. The worst part about it for me was how short it was (and still is). It was my most anticipated film of 2017, and I knew I was getting a fictionalized story about the real man, but didn’t care. It gave me a sense of fun and wonder that a circus was meant to give its audience, and honestly, as he deceived them, you could argue it was meant to deceive us about the real man.

This would be much higher if it was a little over 2 hours long.

Favorite moment? My favorite song shifts constantly, so at the time of the writing, I will go with The Other Side.

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43) The Witch 2015

Why? I was completely shookith with this film when it came out, appreciating how much the director went for realism in a story dealing with the supernatural. The clothes, the house, the language. Anna Taylor-Joy has started her career off really with this film, escalating her into several other horror/thriller roles.

The introduction of the film started things off very bleak from the beginning, and it was the struggle throughout that made it just that much more horrifying.

Favorite moment? The ending scenes with our goat.

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42) Moana 2016

Why? Our first animated film on the list, and not the last, Moana felt like they finally perfected the “modern Disney Princess” film. Trying to fix the backlash of their older films with problematic narratives.

Tangled and Frozen were obviously stepping stones to get there, but Moana has it all, including a banging soundtrack with only one overall dud in my eye. Looking at you Shiny.

Favorite moment? The ending reveal/victory I didn’t see coming and it still holds up in repeated viewings.

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41) Bodied 2018

Why? Likely to be one of the more controversial films on this whole list, because this damn thing is a controversial film. It has so many elements going on in it that SHOULD lead to it being something we should avoid, that it somehow mashes together to make an uncomfortable masterpiece.

When I rewatched this movie, it still made me captivated, and cringe at all the right moments.

Favorite moment? I am going to say I love/hate the ending.

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Click here for Part 2 (40-31)!
Click here for Part 3 (30-21)!
Click here for Part 4 (20-11)!
Click here for Part 5 (10-1)!

Blinded By The Light

What is this year? Two movies about Asian men being super into some older band?

We had Yesterday, about The Beatles, and now we have Blinded By The Light, about The Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Sure, neither of these movies are at all related. One a mystical event wiping them from the world. Another a realistic tale about a dude who just liked Springsteen decades later to an obsessive degree. Yet, at the same time, I feel like they will forever be linked in the future despite everything.

And you know, because of people like me.

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People like me, who don´t get to look good in plaid.

Javed (Viveik Kalra) has had a typical Pakistani upbringing. Well, he has been living in London for most of his life, that is different. But his father (Kulvinder Ghir) and mother (Meera Ganatra) are strict, and have his whole life planned out for him. Same for his sister (Kit Reeve).

Despite having a British best friend (Dean-Charles Chapman) across the street, who got to do everything, Javed had to watch and live vicariously a lot of the time. When it got to be time for graduation and college, Javed liked to write poetry, but that wouldn´t lead him to a good career. He couldn´t follow his passions in writing, he had to do something that would make him some money.

Dealing with racism, not fitting in, and a home life that doesn´t care, Javed found a home in one of his fellow South Asian friends, Roops (Aaron Phagura), and his love for a man named Bruce Springsteen. Javed immediately began to connect to his music, about the struggles of life and found a new passion in it all. His music encouraged him to try new things, to date, to follow his passions, and of course, to write.

But following your dreams doesn´t mean you will be on a path of least resistance.

Also featuring Nell Williams, Tara Divina, and Hayley Atwell.

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The most appealing part of the room is just how clean it all feels.

I didn´t like Yesterday because the story was a mess and bad all over. I didn´t like Blinded by the Light because I failed to ever care.

This film almost received a 0 from me, but it had some nice scenes at the end. Mainly the protest scene and the arguments with his family scenes. They brought me in a little bit. But everything else felt so forced, and more importantly, slow.

It felt like an eternity to get through this movie, and took awhile to get to a real point. It doesn´t offer anything new on the basic side of things. Kid wants to do something, parents do not want him to do it, and he is able to do it anyways for success! Yay!

Is it better because its a true story? Because its about Springsteen? None of these inherently make a great story. And if it is a true story, it still fails to tell me why it matters. This kid, if he grew up to be a famous song writer or author, we don´t know. At the end we know he grew up to go see Bruce Springsteen in concert a whole lot of times.

Setting the bar quite low for reasons to make a movie here.

1 out of 4.

The Gentlemen

Let’s start this review with a little bit of a confession. Later this year we are getting a Kingsman prequel movie called The King’s Man. That makes a lot of sense to be the title of a Kingsmen prequel film. No one should get that confused.

Enter me. Movie reviewer. Reviewer who tries to not watch trailers or too many other notes about films before seeing it. I remember that the Kingsman prequel had a really obvious name for the series, but didn’t remember exactly what.

So, when I saw I had a screening upcoming for The Gentlemen? My mind went only one place. Ah yes, the Kingsman prequel.

And let’s just say, this movie had me pretty confused for about 20 minutes about how the heck this was at all related to those other films. When they started making a lot more modern references and talk about cell phones, I knew I must have just been a dumb fuck at that point. Anyways, that movie comes out in September. This one is an original and it comes out now.

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But wait, there’s more!

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is a weed dealer on a grand scale in Great Britain, and he isn’t even a citizen. Damn Americans. He has so much weed, making so much money, no one knows how he does it. Where does he hide his crops?

Well, he wants out of the game. He is getting older, less likely to go killing people and defending his territory. If he can sell out his whole operation to someone else, he will have enough money to retire the rest of his life with his comfy and rich friends.

But a simple idea dealing with illegal things will never be that easy. We have a very good and nosy reporter (Hugh Grant), the owner and operator of a gym for formerly bad people to make them better (Colin Farrell), Pearson’s number 2 man (Charlie Hunnam), and an ambitious Chinese gangster looking to make a break in the business (Henry Golding) that are all going to make things more complicated.

People will turn on everyone if it means survival in the end.

Also starring Jeremy Strong, Michelle Dockerty, Eddie Marsan, and Tom Wu.

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Success is always measured in dollars, nothing else.

The Gentlemen is definitely a return to form for Guy Ritchie, and is definitely not a prequel to that one franchise I will stop talking about.

This film felt like his previous great works that people think about when they say Guy Ritchie. Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and sure, RocknRolla, This is not like most of his trash from the last decade.

We get twists and turns, hard to understand accents, shocking moments, extra action when necessary, and surprises. A lot of what I said could be considered the same thing, and I don’t care about that.

It was very entertaining, if not hard to follow at the beginning [Editor’s note: That could be because this viewer was a dumbass, see the beginning of the review.] of the film. I did get annoyed at the seemingly excessive racist Asian language that happened at multiple times, although I accept that as bad people going against other bad people, it makes sense for the characters to be…racist. That was hard to type. Still can be frustrating as a viewer.

I give the most praise to Hugh Grant. He went really out of his normal style for this role (except for his general flair for the dramatics that he always carries) and killed it. I also quite enjoyed Farrel and Golding, Golding in particular is on the rise out of seemingly nowhere.

The Gentlemen is just going to be a fun time, with a little bit of death and mayhem.

3 out of 4.

Isn’t It Romantic?

It has been tough for Rebel Wilson to breakout so far as a leading actress. Probably mostly because she is seen as a goofy, lovable sidekick character. She played it in the Pitch Perfect franchise and What To Expect When You’re Expecting really well, to make her mark.

But with those roles came more roles of similar nature. Only small parts, and if she is a leading lady, she is sharing it with a few others in a group, and those films haven’t been met with any acclaim.

Now with Isn’t It Romantic?, she gets to be not just the leading woman, but obviously the leading character. This is a movie about someone she plays, and everyone else is side folly. I could be mistake, but I believe this is the first time she has done this in a big picture before.

And why not start with a purely satire picture, so that people know we are supposed to find it ridiculous.


Having a RomCom? That means the impromptu musical part will be my favorite!

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) works as an architect, but has no self confidence at all. She lets her work friends walk all over her, she does favors with none given back, she can’t get a word in at meetings, she has an assistant (Betty Gilpin) who just likes to watch movies and is lazy, but she is fine with it.

But this leads to their discussion of romantic comedies. Because Natalie thinks they are stupid, but her assistant loves them. And sure enough, after getting mugged by a subway and waking up in a hospital, Natalie has found her life to be different. The world is cleaner, people are nicer, and good things are suddenly happening to her out of nowhere.

A guy who used to be a jerk to her (Liam Hemsworth) now only wants to seduce her, she now has a gay best friend (Brandon Scott Jones), and her best friend forever (Adam DeVine) is also getting wrapped up in the genre and found a new love (Priyanka Chopra)!

Looks like everything is going to work out after all…

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Have your dreams come true? Gain a Hemsworth.

Plenty of satires have mocked what they were satirizing, and also given a film that follows those tropes as part of their satire. But how far is too far? And how much of it is just an excuse to make another romantic comedy?

It sort of feels like lampshading. “Oh golly, romantic comedies have a gay best friend, and now here is ours!” and things like that. And this movie does do that a lot, which loses its impact over time.

ON THE OTHER HAND. This film does not fully commit, thankfully. It does subvert the expectation as well, giving us that breath of fresh air.

It would be most ideal if it subverted it more often, but if it only subverted the trope, then she wouldn’t be stuck in a RomCom, so it is hard to find the balance.

And also, let’s be honest, I loved the multiple musical numbers. Those really are my jam.

It could have been better, but it also could have been way, way worse.

2 out of 4.