Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Great Expectations: March 2012

Here are the movies that I am most looking forward to in the month of March! Check out the trailers...

Project X (March 2nd)

Friends with Kids (March 9th)

The Hunger Games (March 23rd)

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Above Average Awards: 2011

In order to help you understand why each category is how it is, I have provided a brief explanation for each category. The number of "nominees" recognized for each category is based solely on which performances I deemed worthy of recognition. I'm sorry that this post is a bit lengthy, but I wanted to give credit where credit was due. Also, there is no way I could possibly watch every movie that was made in 2011, so there may be some left off the list that shouldn't be. If there is a movie that you think I should watch or a performance that you think I should appreciate more, please comment. I am only one man, and I already spend too much of my time watching movies. Now, let's get to it....... Here are The Above Average Awards for 2011:

Best Comedic Actress
Before you read the list of best comedic actresses in 2011, I want to apologize for the fact that it lacks in the number of qualifiers. There were probably many more great female comedic performances that I missed out on in 2011. I think the main reason that I had trouble finding qualifiers is that I don't watch chick flicks (except on romantic occasions). This obviously limits my choice when it comes to this category, but I just didn't want to recognize people that weren't deserving...

# 3-Kristin Wigg (Bridesmaids)
While I wasn't a huge fan of the movie as a whole, I thought there were a few terrific performances by some terrific actresses. Wigg, who was greatly involved in the making of the film, is always funny, and she didn't disappoint as the lead in Bridesmaids.

#2-Mila Kunis (Friends with Benefits)
Friends with Benefits is the first time I have actually been impressed with Mila Kunis... EVER!!! And that is certainly saying something, considering I am probably the biggest That 70's Show fan that you will ever meet. Kunis was great, and I really felt like she was putting everything into the film, rather than just showing up and reading the funny lines that were written for her.

#1-Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Fresh off an Emmy for best actress, McCarthy is so freakin funny in Bridesmaids. I don't quite know how she can play such a wide range of characters. It really shows just how talented she is. She actually got a real Oscar nomination for her role, which is saying something, considering the role is certainly comedic. Melissa McCarthy is easily the best comedic actress in 2011...

Best Comedic Actor
This category wasn't the easiest to come up with, considering there were so many mediocre comedies this year. However, I believe that each of these men are worthy of this honor and I hope you agree with my list...

#6-Seth Rogen (50/50)
While this movie, as a whole, was far from comedic, Seth Rogen's role was certainly hilarious. He really did a great job of taking the edge off of the seriousness, but he also was able to connect with the audience. Sometimes his humor was a bit over-the-top in the whole cancer situation, but that really made the results of the friendship between him and Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) even more touching in the end.

#5-Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover: Part II)
So everyone in the free world has made known how much they disliked the second installment in The Hangover franchise, but I just don't understand it. Galifianakis is a hilarious man, but he will always be known as Alan from The Hangover, solely because he is hilarious in the role! That's why he is on the list. Because the same ol' Alan is funny, in any movie.

#4-Russell Brand (Arthur)
Poor Katy Perry... Russell Brand is one of the funniest men alive, and I personally thought that Arthur was a funny movie, solely because Brand played the lead character. So many people have dogged on this movie, but I'm going to allow it to have it's moment in the spotlight here on my blog.

#3-Jamie Foxx (Horrible Bosses)
Jamie Foxx is a hilarious individual, but in Horrible Bosses he really shines. I certainly hopes he continues to appear in these smaller roles in the future. I think they fit him well, and he can really show off just how funny he is. He also teaches us a valuable lesson: "Never walk into a bar and give a man $5,000 just because he's black."

#2-Collin Farrell (Horrible Bosses)
As if he didn't look funny enough! Farrell is amazingly funny in his role as one of the three horribly funny bosses in a fantastic movie. I had no idea that Farrell had a good acting bone in his body, but it seems that we have found it. I really hope he will do more comedic work in the future.

#1-Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses)
I have tried my best to watch a complete episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but I just can't, because it's so not funny. Charlie Day is known for his role in this awful show, but I promise you that he will now be remembered (in my mind at least) as the guy that made me laugh hysterically during Horrible Bosses. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best comedic actor of 2011!

Best Actress in a Drama
This was a truly great year for women in film. If you look at the Oscar nominations, there are some very unique and new actresses that have gotten a ton of acclaim for their performances, which is great to see. I'm sure I have missed some performances, because I don't do "girly" films, but I hope my list is as close to accurate as can be.

#6-Hayley Atwell (Captain America)
I know that no actress in a Marvel movie is going to get a great amount of accolades, but I believe that Atwell deserves some recognition for her role in THE best Avenger film to date. It is certainly depressing to know that she will not likely appear in any future Captain America films. She really brought life to Chris Evans' character and made me care about that date that he missed (even though that was an awful last line).

#5-Anjelica Huston (50/50)
While her part certainly wasn't the most important in 50/50, she absolutely drew me in with her perfect mix of emotion and overdramatism. I believe that her presence really created an even closer connection between the audience and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character. The scene where she says goodbye to her son, before his surgery, is the closest I came to crying in a 2011 film, so she certainly deserves credit.

#4-Shailene Woodley (The Descendants)
While George Clooney is getting a lot off Oscar hype for his performance in The Descendants, Shailene Woodley truly deserves it. I certainly don't watch her ABC Family show, so I have never seen her in anything before. I must say that I was very impressed with her rebellious performance, and I truly believe she was an Oscar snub this year.

#3-Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
As if just looking at her isn't enough, there is actually a fantastic performance under all of those piercings and funky hairdos. It is obvious that she was given a great role to step in to, but it certainly couldn't have been easy to shoot some of those scenes. Mara is likable and frightening. She is serious yet funny. There is no doubt in my mind that she has a bright future in Hollywood.

#2-Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
As the most important character in the entire film, Wood is simply fantastic at making you really feel for her, as she struggles through some traumatic moments throughout the film. I originally thought she was going to get on my nerves, but she instead provided one of the best performances of the year thanks to the directing of George Clooney and the help of Ryan Gosling.

#1-Every Single Woman on the set of The Help
All I can say is WOW!!! This movie absolutely blew me away, and the acting blew me away even more so. A lot of attention is being given to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for their performances and rightfully so. However, I think the other women deserve just as much credit. Actresses like Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Emma Stone, and the fantastic Sissy Spacek deserve just as much credit for making this film great. So, I've decided to give my Best Actress in a Drama honor to ALL of them! Here's to hoping there are as many great performances from these actresses next year!

Best Actor in a Drama
I apologize for making this list so long, but I just couldn't quite leave any of these great performances off of the list. With a lot of young actors making the list, it gives hope for a bright movie future (even with the recession and all). If you missed any of these great performances, be sure to check them out when they hit the DVD shelves...

#7-Thomas Horn (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)
I have heard several critics talk about how annoying Horn was in this, his first ever, role, but I just have to disagree. Truth be told, Horn probably wouldn't have gotten much attention if this hadn't have been his first ever film. Nevertheless, he was fantastic! Sure he was goofy and awkward at times, but his character was supposed to be! Kudos to Horn for having the guts to give acting a try. He must be ok for his film to merit a Best Picture nomination.

#6-Jeremy Irons (Margin Call)
A marvelous job by a marvelous actor in a movie that most people will never have the pleasure of viewing. Irons plays the CEO of a company that is the first to discover the events of The Great Recession, and the drama that ensues is fantastic. His character is strong-witted, and I hope to be half the businessman that he portrayed. Go watch this movie! You will be impressed.

#5-Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
The always fantastic Pitt did a phenomenal job as the risk-taking Billy Beane of the Oakland A's. Pitt not only did a good job portraying the baseball side of Beane, but he did an even better job of making you care about his personal life, which greatly strengthened this film. Regardless of his recent comments, I certainly hope Brad Pitt sticks to acting for a little bit longer.

#4-The Kids of Super 8 (Super 8)
Although Super 8 is not one of the critics' favorites, it is one of mine, and these amazing young actors and one amazing young actress did a fantastic job of making this movie one of the best of 2011. You usually can't go wrong when you put a kid into a movie, but J.J. Abrams did all kinds of right when picking these kids. I hope they all have bright futures in Hollywood, so we can look back on this great film and smile at what great talent it introduced us to.

#3-Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
While Brad Pitt was fantastic, Jonah Hill was outstanding. I don't know if one of those words is better than the other, but, to me at least, it means that Hill gets two spots hire on this year's best list. Hill, who is known for his funnyman work, really showed that he has the ability to shine as a dramatic actor. I really hope that he tries to go for more dramatic roles in the future, because he was darn good (outstanding).

#2-Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March)
Gosling was fantastic alongside Evan Rachel Wood, George Clooney, and many other great actors. This was probably the best cast movie of the entire year. The story just wasn't quite good enough. Though many girls like Gosling for his looks, I hope they realize that he is also one heck of an actor.

#1-Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50)
As I said in my bit on Anjelica Huston, Gordon-Levitt had the audience (or me, at least) drawn in both emotional and comically. I just don't believe that anyone came close to this performance all year long. Sure, George Clooney may win best actor at the Oscars this week, but he certainly doesn't deserve it. THIS GUY DOES!!!! I'm pretty sure that everyone has their own opinion, but I also believe that my opinion is always the correct opinion. Maybe you think someone else is deserved of the honor, but don't express your thoughts on the matter until you watch 50/50. This performance will absolutely blow you away, so enjoy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wins the Above Average Award for Best Actor in a Drama!

Best Comedy
I personally believe that this category should be recognized at The Academy Awards each and every year. It is not fair to comedic actors and filmmakers, who have very little hope of ever getting real recognition for their work. Certainly not to discredit the work of dramatic filmmakers, but sometimes we need to laugh more than we need to see a great story. I'm going to keep on praying that the category is added one day, but, until then, you will just have to take my word for it...

A lot of critics have not been very kind to Arthur, but I don't see why. Russell Brand has to be the funniest man alive. His sheer presence makes me crack up! I laughed my butt off during this movie, and expect you to do the same.

#4-The Hangover: Part II
Ok, I will admit it... Nothing is as good as the original! However, I still loved the second installment (regardless of what others may think). I didn't go into the movie expecting to be amazed like I was in the original, which gave me the ability to enjoy the film for what it obviously was... a retelling of the original with a few new jokes thrown in there. I hope they come up with an original plot for the third movie, but I hope people will look beyond the problems and realize that The Hangover Part II was absolutely hilarious!

#3-Just Go With It
I don't think that any single person has taken as much crap from critics this year as the great Adam Sandler. Of course he isn't as good as he used to be, but I think this movie was absolutely amazing! Sure, the plot was predictable and boring at times, but there was never a lack of laughter, coming from my end at least. If you haven't seen this movie, don't listen to the other critics. Go watch it! You will be impressed.

#2-Arthur Christmas
Unlike the Oscar voters, I don't see every single animated picture ever made (whether it's in English or Chinese or silent or whatever). Because of my ignorance on the subject, I didn't want to create an entire category for animated films like The Oscars do. So, I decided to put Arthur Christmas in the comedy category, because everyone knows we only want to see animation because of the hilarity. Arthur Christmas was one of the funniest movies of the year, and it even taught a nice little Christmas lesson. Also, everyone was Scottish!!! That's just hilarious!

#1-Horrible Bosses
Ok... Here it is! The funniest movie of 2011 is Horrible Bosses. If you haven't seen it, you need to. If you have seen it, then you better agree with me. I am a huge fan of comedies, solely because laughter is just good for the soul. With all of the comedies I have seen over the past few years, there has not been a better cast comedy since The Hangover crew was assembled. I loved each and every character, and I'm very excited that a sequel is in the works already! If you are ever feeling down in the dumps, just pop Horrible Bosses into your DVD player and watch the magic happen...

Best Picture
While I am an average guy, I do agree with most critics who believe that a good story makes the movie. It doesn't matter how much CGI you include or whether it's in 3D or not. What really matters is having great characters and a great plot, which is why I always pick apart those two subjects in my reviews. Some of you may be disappointed that a movie like Mission Impossible or Transformers didn't make the cut, and I can certainly understand why. Those two movies were certainly the best of the action-CGI-cool gadgets category this year, and I truly truly love Transformers. However, movies like that always have a "someone's taking over the world" plot, which lacks any form of uniqueness and originality. When I was making this list, I thought about the movies that really made me feel. I don't know about you, but, when I watch a good movie, I leave the theater emotionally unstable. This doesn't always mean that I am sad or crying, but I really feel like there was some sort of connection there, as if I was IN the movie rather than watching it. So, as you look at my list for best pictures, you may be disappointed that it looks similar to the Oscar nominees, and I'm ok with that! But, if you haven't seen these movies, don't be so quick to judge them. I promise that they are the best of 2011...

If you know how much I love baseball, you can only assume that I would be a sucker for any baseball movie, and you would be correct. However, Moneyball is not your typical baseball movie, and that is why it lands on this list. The unique story and fantastic characters create an amazing story about one man, who changed the face of baseball forever. I only wish it could have been me instead of Billy Beane.

#4-The Help

To be straightforward with you, I really thought that The Help was going to be a chick flick. After watching it, I obviously assumed wrong. While there were tons and TONS of women in the film, there is no doubt that this is an excellent story for absolutely everybody on the face of the earth. There were great, emotional moments. There were great, emotional characters. There were great, emotional lessons to be learned. While this was not an original story (because it came from a book), the filmmakers did an amazing job of creating a masterpiece. If you get nothing else from The Help, you realize that people can accomplish the unthinkable, when they decide to accomplish it together.

#3-Midnight in Paris
Midnight in Paris is, by far, the most non-average of my top movies of 2011. This is the kind of film that makes The Academy pee their pants. I say this for a few reasons. 1) Not many people have seen it. 2) It has a uniquely different vibe about it. 3) Not many people have seen it!!! You may not understand how I could put an Oscar-like film at #3 for 2011, but I promise you that this film is absolutely amazing. As I said in the intro, a good movie has me emotionally unstable when I leave the theater. I watched this movie in the comfort of my own room, and I still felt like somebody had taken me on a whimsical journey through Paris. Please! Please! Please! Go watch this film! I promise you will not be disappointed.

#2-Super 8
It was extremely difficult for me to not make this the #1 movie of 2011, but I have to put it at #2. I'm sure some may disagree, but, in my opinion, Super 8 stars the best cast of kids of all time. There is an extreme amount of child-like innocence that just makes you feel good while watching. My guess is that the Oscar voters spat upon the idea of nominating such an E.T.-like film for best picture, even though E.T. was nominated for best picture in its day. Just think if E.T. came out in 2012. How do you think The Academy would react? It's ridiculous how narrow minded the Oscar voters are, but it certainly isn't surprising. When you look past the explosives and the monster, there really is a much deeper story to be found in this film. Super 8 teaches us how to move on, especially in the case of a monster-alien-takeover. Before I end, I just want to say (once again) that J.J. Abrams is my hero (may LOST live on forever!!!)...

Well, here we are! My first year of blogging has revealed to the world that 50/50 is the greatest movie of 2011!!! Be excited folks!!! You don't have to "listen" to people obsess over The Artist on my blog (pun intended) (because The Artist is a silent film). Firstly, let me explain that 50/50 is NOT a comedy. Sure, there are many very hilarious parts to the film, but, when you look at the film as a whole, it just makes you want to cry. If you haven't noticed, comedies don't make you want to cry. This story is very realistic and should not be held within the boundaries of the comedic realm. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance is absolutely brilliant, and I really felt connected to his character. I don't know if this is true, but I feel like this movie may have hit home a bit more because of his age. It was very different to watch someone not much older than me deal with something that we tend to associate with older folks. I would love to hear what an older, adult viewer thinks about Gordon-Levitt's performance, but we may never know (for the amount of sex and language frightens them away). As I said, it was tough to choose between 50/50 and Super 8, but, after watching them each many many times, I decided that 50/50 really was the best film for the year 2011...

WOW!!! That took me a long time! I hope you have enjoyed reading, and I won't keep you any longer. I just wanted to say to you readers, once again, that there is no way I could have watched every movie in 2011, so please comment if you feel I left something off of the list. Also, if you haven't already, please check out The Notscars 2011, where I list the worst in movies from 2011. Please continue to read my reviews, and I look forward to making a new list for 2012!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


For multiple reasons, I didn't quite know what to expect with Chronicle. It's sitting at 84% on the Tomatometer, which is rather impressive for this type of film. Before I checked out the Tomatometer, however, I really didn't think it would get great reviews. It is pretty much common knowledge that found-footage films are either loved or hated (example: The Blair Witch Project vs. Apollo 18). I was thinking that Chronicle might fall towards the hated end of the spectrum, but my opinion was based solely on the trailer. For me, the trailer was very intriguing, but it also was a bit dorky. I was mostly afraid that the characters were going to be very unrealistic teenagers who blurted out one senseless line after another. Chronicle was saved, in my book at least, by the Tomatometer score, which convinced me to watch it...

If you haven't seen the trailer, these high school kids find something that gives them these "force-like" powers. As you can tell in the trailer, one of the kids starts using his powers in bad ways, and trouble ensues. I think I would have rather not known that he was going to end up bad, but, either way, I was rather impressed. The action was rather good for a found-footage kind of film. What made Chronicle different was that they used any and every camera that might have seen something from the story, which allowed you to see a lot of stuff that you wouldn't get from just one camera. As is with most found-footage films, there are many unanswered questions, but I personally love to be left guessing.

Of all of the found-footage films that I have seen ever, Chronicle is the only one that truly develops a deep character background. Andrew Detmer, played by Dane DeHaan, is the main character, and the audience knows so so much about his character that we can actually feel for him, which was extremely surprising to me. The other two main characters, Matt and Steve (played by Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan), didn't get as much background revelation, but we did know a good bit about them. The relationship between the characters was not at all what I expected, and I really didn't expect the depth with the main character, who had many many issues.

Best Character: Although it is rare, I believe the best character had to be Andrew, the main character. There really weren't many cast members to choose from, but, at times, I was very impressed with DeHaan's performance. Andrew had a tough life, and, once he finally had something going for him, he couldn't handle it at all. His character was very deep for a Sci-Fi thriller.

Worst Character: To be honest, this honor was not at all hard to pick. Casey Letter, played by Ashley Hinshaw, was the most pointless addition to any movie I have seen in a long, long time. She had absolutely no point, aside from allowing us to view (through her camera) a bit of Matt's back story.

I must say that I was politely surprised by Chronicle, as a whole. Certainly there were issues with predictability, but I was expecting the whole thing to be a typical found-footage film. The amount of character depth and emotion really surprised me, and I believe it would surprise you. I truly wish that the trailer wouldn't have been as revealing, because it would have been nice not to know that one of the kids was going to turn evil, but, unfortunately, we can't change the past. Chronicle is a great option for any Sci-Fi/Action lover out there. There are a few dorky moments, but, overall, it's pretty good for a movie about high schoolers. I give Chronicle 2.7 out of 5 stars.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This Means War

Honestly, I only went to see This Means War because my lovely girlfriend wanted to go for Valentine's Day. No normal human could make me watch a movie that I didn't want to, but she is special. She is the best thing ever in the entire world, and our love is exactly like the love you see in all those magnificently romantic movies! I just can't explain, in words, exactly how much I love her!!!!!.... Wooh Wooh Wooh!!! Wait a second!!!!.... I greatly apologize readers! That was the romantic comedy tugging at the strings of my heart! The truth is that I am not a huge Reese Witherspoon fan; therefore, I didn't expect this movie to really impress me very much. It's just not my type of movie (THANK GOD!), but you never know when a rom com might sneak up and be good.

Well, I will start with the positive. I actually laughed a good bit! Witherspoon's presence didn't absolutely disgust me, so the film was actually way more bearable than I expected. The general idea of the plot was pretty good, but the execution was absolutely horrible. The filmmakers went for this strange, CIA-themed, action feel, and it did everything except work. I almost felt like it was a spoof film most of the time. The only parts that weren't completely out there were when they were doing super romantic stuff. I'm not kidding when I say this, but there was actually a bad guy! Yes, you heard correctly... a bad guy! Like Batman's Joker, Sparrow's Barbosa, Woody's Sid, Optimus's Megatron. Now introducing... Heinrich! America's new scary bad guy. I'm sorry to joke about this, but I honestly struggled to take the movie seriously, due only to these awkward moments with Heirich. His being added in the plot really ruined any hope that this movie ever had of being great.

Best Scene: Pretty much any scene where Witherspoon's Lauren was working. She had the coolest job ever. Go watch to see what it is (or google it).
As I said before, I am not a fan of Reese Witherspoon. Personally, I just think she is a below average actor, who always acts exactly the same. I must say, however, Reese was a good fit for the role of Lauren. She did still act the same, but it worked in this situation. FDR and Tuck, played by Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, were a little bit over the top, due to the aforementioned action-CIA issue, but, even with the issues, I did a laugh a good bit at them. What made this movie unique was the fact that there was no obvious choice as to which guy she was going to choose. Both FDR and Tuck had almost equal screen time, which made it very difficult to figure out which guy she was going to end up with.

Best Character: Trish, played by Chelsea Handler, was by far the most hilarious character, as Handler did nothing but act like her usual self. I think Handler is one of the crudest women in the world (as she challenges Lisa Lampanelli for the title), but her crudeness is absolutely hilarious. Hopefully we will see her in more films in the future.

Worst Character: As I said before, the inclusion of a bad guy was absolutely ridiculous, so, of course, I have to give the worst character honor to Heinrich, played by Til Schweiger. Heinrich just brought this awkward awfulness to the movie, and it just kind of pissed me off.

While I did point out the negatives rather harshly, This Means War did provide many laughs, and, I must say, I wasn't as disgusted as I thought I would be. The coolest thing was the fact that I had no clue which guy she was going to pick, until it actually happened. Usually, it is rather simple to figure out exactly what is going to happen in any rom com, so this was a nice surprise. The characters all had good. funny parts, aside from Heinrich. At the end of the day, I certainly suggest This Means War for you ladies out there, and, to the men, don't be afraid like me. I give This Means War 2.22 out of 5 stars, and praise the Lord above that I didn't have to watch The Vow!!!

P.S.: My girlfriend is as awesome as I said