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#19 Avatar

Avatar

Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver

For the 2010 Oscars there were 10 nominated films. This was one of them. Yet this was the only one of the 10 that I hadn’t seen yet. I never saw this movie in theaters and that could be a part of my problem with it. I know I would have seen it in theaters but I was never in a hurry to see it. I never noticed anything in the trailers that really peaked my interest. Sure the special effects looked great but I feel that we are reaching an era of diminishing returns on newer special effects. I’m sure people like James Cameron who spends his life working on brilliant ways to improve these effects would disagree. But not much can top the sight of Sam Neil and Laura Dern gazing up in astonishment at the dinos of Jurassic Park.

I understand there is a huge difference in the technology used to create those dinosaurs and the technology used to create the individual strands of hair on the avatars. It’s just that with that much work put into the visuals, it becomes something other than a movie to me. I feel like James Cameron made this for himself and not necessarily for me. Now if there were an original thought provoking story, that might be different. The story was certainly recycled from many movies. The acting was good. The dialogue was mediocre at best. So what are we left with? Visuals. I’m sorry but I need more. Something to grasp on so that I have the desire to pop in my DVD and be a part of this journey with these characters.

I feel like I am really ragging on this movie. I didn’t hate it but I just wanted it to be so much better. It’s good but not as good as it could have been.

6/10

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Oscar Winner alert: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects…Nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Film Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

-I will most certainly watch the sequels if only to see Sigourney Weaver. I’d watch her take out the trash.

Up Next: Away We Go

 

#18 Atonement

Atonement

Starring Kiera Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan

There are few films that completely tear you heart out when the ending credits roll. This is definitely one of them. I was really rooting for this film at the Oscars that year because compared to the rest of the films it has that classic Hollywood feel. From the cinematography to the score to the costume design, I feel that this movie really had that classic beauty to it. The director Joe Wright is one of my favorites because he views every frame and every background of each scene as a work of art. You can take a still at any point in this movie and you can hang it on your wall as art.

And to top it off you have several of the best performances of the year. Kiera Knightley and James McAvoy have this subtle yet raw sensual chemistry from their first scene which makes the ending all the more powerful. And Saoirse Ronan was fantastic in this role. Very few actors her age can pull off playing such a mature yet innocent child. As much as I despised her for what she did, I still felt for her.

If I had to give this movie any criticism, I would say that the war scenes in the middle of the movie were a bit dragging.

9/10

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-Oscar Winner Alert: Best Original Score Nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design

-The score rightfully deserved the Oscar win. Extremely original and extremely effective in creating the tension needed to fully understand the difficulties of their romance.

-Not only did we get Saoirse Ronan out of this movie but we also got Juno Temple. Most recently seen in Kaboom and The Dark Knight Rises.

Up Next: Avatar

#17 Annie Hall

Annie Hall

Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

This is my first of many Woody Allen films in my collection. I actually got into his films pretty late into my film obsession. I saw Small Time Crooks in theaters and absolutely fell in love with his humor. I watched a lot of his more recent films at that point and then started getting back to his classics. I had already had an obsession with Diane Keaton at that point so I’m surprised it took me so long to watch this. This actually isn’t my favorite Woody Allen film but it’s up there.

To me two of the most important parts of a movie are the writing and the chemistry between actors. The acting itself is of course important but it’s amazing how much good chemistry can transcend mediocre acting. Obviously we don’t have to worry about mediocre acting in this movie but the chemistry between Diane and Woody takes everything to a whole new level. Their relationship is so honest and raw and real. The internal struggles of the characters in his movies become the plot itself.

 

9/10

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-Oscar Winner Alert!: Best Picture, Best Actress (Diane Keaton), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director (Woody Allen) Also nominated for Best Actor (Woody Allen)

- I can’t go to a movie that already started either.

- I would love to have a few Woody Allen screenplays to sit and read through. Annie Hall would be at the top of the list because there is just so much happening within the dialogue that you hear and fully understand new jokes with each viewing. I really feel that Woody Allen paved the way for current comedies on TV and Film alike that have so meaning when you read between the lines.

-Up Next: Atonement

#16 An Education

An Education

Starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina

I’ve always had a thing for British period pieces. They are almost always filled with intelligent, witty, classy people. So it’s always a pleasure to come across one with such great actors, vivid cinematography and sharp writing.

The plot isn’t exactly original but everything about this movie is so charming that it becomes more than  just another coming-of-age story. The movie wouldn’t be anything without the stellar Cary Mulligan. She so effortlessly portrays this subtle eagerness to be a woman. She is introduced to this whole new world of art and music and this sexual awakening and she is able to hold on to her innocence while still fitting into this vibrant new reality.

This is a movie that transcends the story and gives you time to examine your live at that point. When all you know is what you know, it can be exciting and even necessary to try something new. Yet it can be dangerous. But you’ll never know until you try. Except trying could ruin your life. This is also one of those movies that makes you realize how difficult life can be but it can also offer you so much.
I can understand how this movie might not appeal to everyone though. It can be extremely slow at times, especially for your average American viewer. Even I was having trouble keeping with it a couple times in the middle. I also might give this a higher score if there was more of a consequence at the end of the movie. It came off a little anticlimactic. I think that everything was done nearly perfect yet it’s missing something to be a truly great film. However, I could not tell you what that is. There are some movie that need to be a little more simplistic. This is one of them.

 

7.5/10

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-Cary Mulligan was absolutely fantastic but the rest of the cast was incredible as well. I love when movies have so many talented actors pop up throughout every scene.

-Oscar Alert!: Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay

-Up next: Annie Hall

#15 American Psycho

American Psycho

Starring Christian Bale

This movie came out to pretty good reviews. As I mentioned with with American Beauty, which came out around the same time as this, I was just getting into films and I was often looking to the critics to tell me what I should like. (I’m pretty sure that’s a natural step for film lovers) I remember not getting the movie at all, but still thinking that I loved it. I guess mostly just because the critics said I should. I was only 15 at the time, so I was easily persuaded. Since the first time I know I’ve seen parts of it here and there but I think this viewing was only the 2nd time I’ve seen it in full. Now that I can think for myself, I’m a little hesitant to agree with these critics. I can see why it’s widely appreciated, but I’m not sure it works for me.

I appreciate the humor, as it quite hysterical to see the worlds biggest Huey Lewis and the News fan murder someone to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” But I think the humor is it’s biggest problem. Patrick Bateman seemed like a cartoon character to me. I very much enjoy the horror genre and I feel like there is so much more to a person who has the need to kill. SPOILER ALERT! – Even if it’s just all in his head, there is still a reason his subconscious is creating this murderous rampage. People always say, and I agree, that ambiguity is always great at the end of a movie. However, you still have to narrow it down to something we can grasp to. There are a million reasons why he created this sociopath in his head but the viewers have not a clue in which way they could look to find their answer. Ambiguity in movies should not only be “what happened?” but “why did it happen that way?” This movie was basically created because it had shock value. My one sentence review: A man savagely murders people for no reason and then realizes he didn’t. END SPOILER.

I feel that Christian Bale did a fantastic job at being this monster. But it was the directors fault to make him lack so much motivation. In the end I feel that the character didn’t get anything out of his journey. And neither did I.

4/10

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-This movie actually had a great cast but most were unfortunately not utilized well. Reese Witherspoon, Justin Theroux, Chloe Sevigny, Jared Leto, and William Defoe were all wasted.

-It begins to create a semi-interesting story with the murder investigation and then immediately drops it. Even with the ending the way it is, the investigation could have brought out some method to the madness.

Up Next: An Education

#14 American Beauty

American Beauty

Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Chris Cooper, Mena Suvari, Thora Birch and Wes Bently

I absolutely adore this movie and I’ve been so excited to get to this. This movie came out in 2000, just when I started realizing there was more to movies than just entertainment value. I started to see the work and art that went into film making.

The greatest thing about this movie has to be the acting. This movie was flawlessly cast and Annette Bening was absolutely phenomenal as the suburban mother/wife/career woman who wanted everyone to think she led the perfect life. I’m literally in awe of the subtle facial expressions she can make. I love that each character was deeply flawed yet not completely black or white. Only Annette Bening can pull off being such a despicable and annoying character who we still sympathize with. This movie lets you see the absolute worst in each character while still letting you deeply care for them.

I really wish I could remember the first time I saw this movie. All I remember is always loving it. It’s one of the first mainstream movies of this era that allows you to take a different look at the human emotion and what we are capable of and most importantly what we need to do for ourselves. Nobody will ever have the answers. Male or female. Young or old. We are all good people and we are all bad people. So few movies can actually be such an entertaining piece of work while giving off such a poignant sensation in one’s self. After re-watching this, I literally couldn’t think of anything else the rest of the day.

From the beginning of the movie we know that Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, is going to die. The whole movie kind of plays as an autopsy of his death. We know he will die, but we don’t know how. As we meet all of the other characters, including his perfection-obsessed wife and his angst-ridden teenage daughter, we see it play off as almost a murder mystery. Even though we don’t know he will be murdered, we can almost immediately guess it because this poor guy is so pathetic and the other characters are so troubled. You could really see any of the characters blowing his head off for some reason. But as this is all going on, it’s still a such a though-provokingly dark/sad/funny/disturbing/witty movie.

Not everyone has the perfect marriage or family. Not everyone is happy with their job or their bank account. But this movie reminds you, not only to look closer at what goes on in the seemingly ideal life, but to look closer at your pathetic life and see the beauty in anything you can find. Even a floating plastic bag.

 

10/10

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-Oscar Alert!: Best Picture,  Best Directing, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Writing.  With 3 other nominations.

-The score was also nominated and it kills me that it didn’t win. The music was like it’s own character. It stands out so much because it’s so unconventional and eclectic. It’s such a great complement to the vivid cinematography.

-“Will someone pass the fucking asparagus!”

-Everytime Annette Bening screamed in a scene, I really wanted to give her a standing ovation.

Next up: American Psycho

 

 

#13 Alien 3

Alien 3
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Charles S Dutton, Charles Dance

Out of all the Alien movies I’ve seen this one the least. I own the trilogy pack of Alien 1-3. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this and I really didn’t know what to expect. David Fincher directed it, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Well…. It’s pretty bad.  The beginning started off decent enough, but everything goes downhill halfway through.

Let’s start with the positives. Sigourney Weaver is still amazing (as always), and her main co-star for the first half, who is played by a young Charles Dance, AKA Tywin Lannister for all you Game of Thrones fans, has a wonderful chemistry with her. We know there is going to be a bunch of action scenes but the first half of the movie makes it seem that there is a going to be a deeper mystery because of Ripley’s interactions with him.  In case you don’t know, this movie’s plot is basically Ripley + crazy prisoners + an angry alien, so to be a successful movie it really should have a little more mystery and suspense that the first film had. Well it didn’t have that. It seems like they decided to give up and just turn it into a lazy action movie halfway through. And a really bad one. It seemed to have the worst special effects of all 3. Just because you have the technology to do things, doesn’t mean these things have been perfected yet. The Alien looked SO bad in this movie. Laughable bad. And the whole second act was a bunch of dizzying shots of people running through hallways and closing doors. That was literally it. But I guess after two successful movies with such different styles and themes, it was hard to come up with something new and refreshing. Somehow Sigourney was willing to be in another movie, so the producers had to jump at the opportunity to make some extra dough. That’s the biggest problem with failed sequels. But of course, they’ll never learn, because they really don’t care.

I like how I started with the positives and quickly ended up bashing the movie. It’s just after two wonderful films, it’s really disappointing to have to sit through something like this.

4/10

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-David Fincher actually disowned the film, citing constant studio interference and  walked out of production before editing began.

-Sigourney Weaver does look amazing bald.

- I don’t actually own Alien:Resurrection because I really only cared for the first two, but the trilogy was on a crazy sale so I bought it. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it but I’m pretty sure it would receive a better grade than this. I’ll have to find it soon and check it out again. I’m pretty curious if anything could be worse than this.

 

Up next: American Beauty

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