Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Ahead to 2014

The 2013 movie year has yet to be forgotten, but it is never too soon to look ahead to what we will have the opportunity to enjoy in the 2014 movie year! This post will take the place of January's Great Expectations post, because no good films ever come out in January, and it is as simple as that. Below, I've put together a few different categories of movies that I am looking forward to in 2014. So, take a look, and, if you have any questions about upcoming movies or JUST CAN'T WAIT to see a film that I excluded from this list, leave me a note in the comment section or tweet me @TheTan_Man Also, as I'm sure you noticed, I have given the blog a bit of a face lift (the biggest one since I started writing it). If you just hate the new stuff, let me know, and I can change it straight back. I'm sure that most of you could care less, but you are always welcome to an opinion on here!... Enjoy 2014!!!

Top 10 Movies I Just Can't Wait to See in 2014

The Lego Movie (February)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (May)

22 Jump Street (June)

The Fault in Our Stars (June)

Wish I Was Here (September)

The Interview (October)

Gone Girl (October)

Interstellar (November)

Noah (March) / Exodus (December)

Other Exciting 2014 Sequels/Remakes 

Muppets Most Wanted (March)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November)

Horrible Bosses 2 (November)

(Potentially) Big Movies I Will Avoid in 2014

Resident Evil 356 (September)

300: Rise of an Empire (March)

Maleficent (May)

Blended (May)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August)

The Expendables 3 (August)

The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December)

Other Notable Films Out in 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (January)

The Monuments Men (February)

Need for Speed (March)

Divergent (March)

Godzilla (May)

The Amazing Spiderman 2 (May)

Jersey Boys (June)

Transformers: Age of Extinction (June)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July)

Guardians of the Galaxy (August)

Dumb and Dumber To (November)

Annie (December)

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The very first time that I saw the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I was hooked! And, there were only like three word in the entire trailer! Although I am a fairly straightforward and blunt, I do enjoy self-reflective films, and Walter Mitty promised an amazing opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. I know I have written, in the past, about the lack of imagination in the modern world and how that lack of imagination has tightened the gap between the fantasy that is found in film and the fantasy that is found in reality. What was once thought to be imaginative and unreachable is now a part of our everyday life, making it hard to see a fictitious story without any peak at reality. With the day dreaming of Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, I was extremely hopeful that I would be able to grasp at and appreciate imagination for a couple of hours, regardless of how creatively and imaginatively challenged I may truly be...

A number of the mixed reviews that I have seen for Walter Mitty were critical of the film's inability to create a great story to go along with the obvious theme of complacency that Walter struggles with. In my opinion, the simplicity of the story allowed the audience an opportunity to truly soak in the message of the film, which encourages us to go out and do, rather than live in a constant state of "what if." Although many folks may not have the same issues as Walter, I think the story is certainly entertaining and relatable, to say the least. On a personal note, to say that Walter Mitty was relatable would probably be an understatement. Whether or not it's obvious, deep inside me, there is a lot of ambition, and, because I tend to dwell on logic and money, that ambition rarely manifests itself in my life. Going in to the film, I expected Walter to be some sort of social outcast who feared human interaction. Instead, he was just a quiet guy who had a lot on his mind. Basically, he was Tanner Jones in a movie.

I know that I already spent a lot of time of time talking about Walter Mitty, so I will try to avoid dwelling on Ben Stiller's character too much. However, Walter was the complete and total focal point of the film, so he deserves the attention. Stiller's performance was good, but the character carried the film further than Stiller's acting, by far.

While she may be ridiculously crazy, Kathryn Hahn is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic actresses, and I have come to expect her to be hilarious in every single film or TV show in which she might appear. Although the story was about Walter, I though Hahn should have been given a bit more time to shine, as Walter's sister, Odessa. I would have liked it better if Walter's mom, played by Shirley MacLaine, had been removed from the picture and Walter was more involved in caring for Odessa. But, you can't always get what you want! Additionally, I didn't care for Adam Scott's performance as businessman Ted Hendricks. The rude nature of Hendricks was not at all typical for Scott, and it just didn't sit right with me.

The over-zealous eHarmony guy, Todd Maher, (played by Patton Oswalt) was easily the greatest minor character in the film. I wasn't expecting quite as many laughs as came along with this movie, and many of those were brought out by Todd, who helped move along Walter's relationship attempts with Kristen Wiig's Cheryl Melhoff. I really enjoyed the relationship between Walter and Cheryl, although it was over-dramatized a bit. Without Wiig's normalcy, I don't know if Walter would have been able to come across as relatable as he did, which was my favorite aspect of the film.

Over the past few weeks, my post-trailer optimism for Walter Mitty had begun to fade. After hearing mixed reviews and seeing the vague trailer over and over and over, my high expectations became mediocre. Luckily, the film was able to reach my originally high expectations and deliver the self-reflective moments that I truly love. Walter's imagination wasn't quite as bold as I had anticipated, but that just made the movie even better, to me. In fact, I could actually see myself daydreaming in the same way that Walter did (minus the blanking out). This year has contained very few films that I will be able to watch over and over, but I think The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may be this year's "Most Likely to Stay On Repeat," much like 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2011's Midnight in Paris. However, it could be quickly dethroned by Inside Llewyn Davis, if that film would just hurry up and get to Hattiesburg! Regardless, Walter Mitty was a pleasant surprise that I would certainly encourage each and every reader to check out. Plus, it's family friendly, so grandma can come too! Plus, the music was amazing (had to get that plug in there)! I give The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 3.68 out 5 stars. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

American Hustle

I'm sure that many people will disagree with me on the amount of praise that I allot to David O. Russell, but I must admit that I have definitely hopped aboard his bandwagon after two great successes in The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. In fact, Silver Linings was third on my list of best dramas in 2012, which I'm sure Mr. Russell considers a fine honor. He probably tried to send me a thank you note or email or something, but I'm just so busy and hard to get in touch with! Anywho... After seeing the vague, star-studded trailer for American Hustle and hearing the ample amount of praise that has led to its impressive 94% on the Tomatometer, I had high hopes for a film that I knew very little about. However, my high hopes were dulled by iffy expectations. To me, the trailer was scattered and made little sense, but I powered on, clinging to the fact that Russell, Cooper, Bale, and Lawrence thought the film was worth making.

The thing that I LOVE about David O. Russell films is his ability to create dramatic films that feature some of the biggest laughs that you will find in any film of any kind. The Fighter was a great (true) story that featured great acting. Silver Linings Playbook was far from original, but the acting carried the film to an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, the plot of American Hustle is not unique enough to carry the film by itself. Fortunately, like its predecessors, the acting carries the film farther than most any story could. If you saw Argo last year, you can understand how simply dramatic and nerve-wracking a spy/con film can be, and I promise that the unfolding of the plot, at the end of American Hustle, pales in comparison to many B-list PG-13 action flicks, much less the reigning Best Picture champion. This film is 100% carried by the great acting, which I will now take a moment to brag upon...

Much of the drama/comedy mix of a Russell film is only possible because of the great actors that he is able to recruit and pick out for perfect roles. Without the great acting of Lawrence, Cooper, Adams, and Bale, Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter are just mediocre mental illness and boxing dramas with awkward comedy mixed in. Sticking with the same acting crew, American Hustle featured an even better ensemble than last year's Playbook, in my opinion. Really, nobody was poorly cast, and it was hard for me to find something to criticize (acting-wise). However, I managed...

While the performance of Amy Adams may not be negative itself, its ability to meet my expectations was far from grand. After her great turn in The Fighter, I really thought Russell might bring out of Adams another Oscar-worthy performance, much like I believe he did with Bradley Cooper on his second go-round. Unfortunately for Adams, however great her performance as Sydney Prosser may have been, Jennifer Lawrence was there to outshine her, every single step of the way. For me, this result was unexpectedly negative.

Looking back at my list of bests from 2012, the only category in which I question my choices is the category of dramatic actor, in which I named Bradley Cooper number one for his role in Silver Linings Playbook. I thought I might have been blinded by the humor that Cooper's character brought to a great film. However, after watching his character (Richie DiMaso) in American Hustle, there is no doubt in my mind that he can freakin act! In fact, it's going to be hard to keep him out of the top spot for a second straight year! Not only did his character offer up some of the funniest moments of 2013, but he also did a great job of connecting with me, on an emotional, dramatic level, which I was not expecting at all. As I said before, I didn't know what to expect with any of the characters in American Hustle, so I may have been blinded yet again, but hopefully not. On top of Cooper's great performance, Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as the wife of Christian Bale's Irving. Her character (Rosalyn) may have been a tad bit unnecessary, but the performance by Lawrence was extraordinary! I'll be honest... She didn't impress me nearly as much in Silver Linings, so she should definitely get some Oscar attention with this performance. On top of that, great performances by Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, and Louis C.K. made this positive character section one of the largest in the history of average criticism! So, kudos to the marvelous cast!

If you enjoyed, at all, the drama/comedy mix of David O. Russell's previous films, American Hustle is sure to please you. There is no doubt that I enjoyed the film, and I would definitely like to watch it again, so I can enjoy the comedy even more. Don't get me wrong... there is some real drama surrounding the hustle theme. But, if you don't take the film too seriously, there are so many greatly hilarious moments that I promise will blow you away. I could see how many of the jokes may miss with some people, so go in ready to laugh! Also, before you cheer on any single acting category on Oscar night, check out these fantastic performances. They are sure to please! As for David O. Russell... One of these days, he is going to put great acting and great story together, and, when he does, prepare for a best picture win. Mark my words! I give American Hustle 3.2 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Behind the Camera

To be honest with you guys, I'm no expert in picking up on the "behind the scenes" differences from one movie to the next. I don't know how to properly judge how well a movie was directed, how well edited a movie was, or whether the script was lacking in certain qualities. Sure, over time, I have picked up on many tendencies, but I am not "trained" to be able to pick a film apart in that way. I just tell you guys what I liked and didn't like about each film that I see, and that's why I consider myself average. Nothing I write is intended to be over your head, because I consider myself to be at your level. With all that being said, there are still a few film/TV-makers that I tend to enjoy, for one reason or another. Is it because of the tonal, stylistic, other-big-word nature of their work? Or maybe they tap the camera and add a little darkness?... Heck if I know! For all I know, they lucked up and tricked me into liking their work! Regardless, I like the stuff that they make, and, really, that's all that I care about.

That was a very long introduction, but it was intended to help you understand that this list may come off as a bit shallow... because it kind of is! I have listed for you a few folks that make movies and television that I absolutely love. They may direct or write or produce, but all I know is that I see there name, and I immediately want to watch. I just like them, and it really is that simple! In my eyes, these are the guys who can do no wrong behind the camera...


The Coen Brothers
As I look back on my life and ask myself "Tanner, what movie have you quoted more than any other?" I would definitely say that award would be handed to O Brother Where Art Thou. Maybe I can blame that on my being from Mississippi. I mean, I think every person in the state has seen the film. Maybe I can blame it on the fact that it is my favorite comedy of all time. I mean, who wouldn't quote their favorite comedy of all time. Regardless, I quote it, and it has basically become a consistent part of my vocabulary. Add to that their other great, country, old timey films, like True Grit and No Country for Old Men, and you have yourself quite the repertoire. And, Inside Llewyn Davis is sure to add itself to that list this month (or at least hopefully it will). I don't know why, but the Coen brothers have me hooked...


J. J. Abrams
On May 21, 2010, I, Tanner Jones, graduated high school, and I was quite proud of myself, completing 13 years worth of hard work and whatnot. However, regardless of what happened on that Friday night, all I cared about was what would come just two days later... the series finale of LOST. If you know me well or if you've ever read my blog, you probably know that I love LOST! Looking back, I probably should have soaked in graduation a bit more, but oh well! Now, after having watched the series through three whole times, I am absolutely confident that LOST is my absolute favorite TV drama of all time, and a good portion of LOST's greatness can be attributed to the great J.J. Abrams. As the co-creator and showrunner (for about four episodes), maybe Abrams wasn't as influential to LOST as Carlton Cuse or Damon Lindelof, but, without him, the show never makes it to TV. As if creating my favorite TV show wasn't enough, J.J. has gone on to bring us two fantastic Star Trek films and the underappreciated Super 8 to the big screen. Throw in all of his other successful TV shows, and there is no denying that he has one of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy minds ever. As a big Star Wars fan, I really can't wait to see where J.J. takes the franchise, and I really hope he keeps up his traditional, extreme secrecy as we get closer and closer to 2015.


Aaron Sorkin
While LOST will probably always be my favorite TV drama, my first ever TV drama love is none other than... The West Wing. Now, to be honest, I don't really understand how I had a clue what was going on with the show. I was 9 years old when the show started! 9 years old! There's no way that I could have completely understood the politics surrounding The White House, but, nevertheless, I watched the show every Wednesday night with my parents, loving every second of it. Without Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing would not have been made, and I would not have those fond TV-watching memories with my parents. Then, after years of Sorkin-silence, The Social Network came to theaters, written by none other than my main man. While watching The Social Network in the theater, I thought it was a pretty good movie. Luckily for me, Best Buy had the film for $12 on the Tuesday it was released on DVD, and I can't pass up that kind of deal. Now, after having watched the film about 100 times, it is probably my favorite movie ever. Of course, many of you will denounce me because my favorite movie isn't some 50 year old, black and white film, although each person should be entitled to his or her own opinion. I just love the movie! Add such great movies as A Few Good Man and Moneyball, and you have quite the resume. Recently, his presence has continued to engulf my life in the form of The Newsroom, which has quickly become one of my favorite dramas on television (regardless of what some critics may say about it). It had been a long time since the Emmy's made me as excited as they did when Jeff Daniels won best actor for his leading role on the show. When he was giving his speech and made the comment about Aaron Sorkin making entertainment that mattered, I just wanted to jump and shout for joy! Sorkin has truly influenced my TV-watching life, and I certainly hope that he continues to do so, as his career moves along.
Christopher Nolan
In the case of Christopher Nolan, I thought I might be a bit star-struck or something. Not only is The Dark Knight the greatest superhero movie ever, but also Batman is my favorite superhero of all time. I mean, you could probably put anyone behind the camera, and I would still like Batman. However, as I continued to think (and as Ben Affleck's presence draws near), there is no doubt that, without the Nolan brothers, The Dark Knight isn't the greatest superhero film of all time. On top of that, Inception and The Prestige are two more of my favorite films of all time, and I respect anyone who can come up with those mind-blowing storylines. In fact, we are now less than one year away from Nolan's next film, Interstellar, and I am already super duper giddy. Of the four names in this short list, Nolan is probably the one who I'm least able to determine what I like about his films. I mean, the Coen brothers are good at quirky, goofy drama and comedy, J.J. Abrams can do sci-fi unlike anyone else in the 21st century, and Aaron Sorkin can create dialogue that could make anything sound important and over your head. What does Nolan do?... I dunno. All I know is that I love everything he touches, and I hope that streak continues with Interstellar!

I don't really know how to close this post. So, in the spirit of the Coen brothers and their inability to come up with a good ending to a film... Bye!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Great Expectations: December 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

Over the past few years, there have been many months in which I have gone to the movies way, way more than the average human being. In fact, over the past few years, I dare say that has been the case with almost every month. Even so, December 2013 may possibly be the busiest movie-going month that I have ever encountered, and I cannot wait! Instead of caving like Professor Hinkle, I have decided to take this challenge head-on. Usually, in my Great Expectations post, I only list three or four movies to watch each month, but, this month, I've decided to list each and every film that I aspire to watch, in preparation for Oscar night and just for my own entertainment. This month, if you are looking for me, check at the movies first! Also, if I never post anything on here ever again, it's because I spent all of my money on movies and Christmas presents and couldn't pay my internet bill.......

Inside Llewyn Davis
(December 6)
Saving Mr. Banks
(December 13)
American Hustle
(December 18)
(December 18)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
(December 20)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
(December 25)
The Wolf of Wall Street
(December 25)

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Before beginning this review, I decided to look back at my review of the first Hunger Games film, which you can read here. This look back led me to a grand total of two conclusions... 1. With regard to teen book trilogies being turned into films, my frustration never ceases... 2. My writing really sucked in March of last year! I mean, the movie was mediocre enough. The least I could have done was deliver a memorable review for you guys... Sorry about that! Anywho, after watching the underwhelming Hunger Games, my expectations for its sequel were far from elevated. In fact, I expected things to turn out a lot worse, considering sequels tend to lean in that inferior direction. Plus, why would I just want to watch people fight under the same circumstances of the first film? I haven't read the books, but my bet is that Suzanne Collins was really lacking in originality, when it came time for her to create Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Seriously, Mockingjay is not even an original title! It's a theme throughout! Regardless, I felt it was my duty to check out what I figured to be a duplication of its predecessor...

Unfortunately, Catching Fire's storyline turned out to be The Hangover Part II of YA novels, which is not the fault of the filmmakers. Luckily for Lionsgate, teenagers don't really care about originality, as long as you convince enough people to like it (gotta keep it cool!). I must say that it was quite evident that Catching Fire was an after-thought of Suzanne Collins'. Not only were there an excessive number of new characters, but the lack of originality was just blatant. Like the first film, the love triangle felt forced, as Josh Hutcherson's Peeta stole the show, as far as romanticism is concerned. At this point, I wonder why Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth) was even necessary. Maybe the story would have been more interesting if Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) just didn't like Peeta, regardless of the other men in her life. It would certainly cut down on the unnecessary screen time on Gale's part. I guess not as many ravenous girls would be interested if they only had one guy to obsess over. Also, Gale shouldn't call her "Catnip"! The name Katniss has never been had by anyone, so why do you need to give a nickname to someone with a unique name... That's just a personal rant of mine!

I must say that the acting and the characters were much better in Catching Fire than in the first film. Of course, we all know that Jennifer Lawrence can act, so that's not something worth discussing, but the other performances, discussed below, made the long, drawn out introduction to the actual games a bit more bearable than in the first film.

Thank goodness that Seneca Crane (played by Wes Bentley) was absent from this film. He was one of the worst characters of all 2012 films, and his absence made the film a lot better. The only Catching Fire character that I just could not stand was Lenny Kravitz's Cinna, who is just so, so awkward! Is it just me or does he not come off as a giant perv, who wants him some catnip (if you know what I'm talking about)? Maybe if I had read the books, I would have more of a connection to him, but, as far as the film is concerned, I just think he is a bit of freak.

When watching the first film, I found Stanley Tucci's Caesar Flickerman to be WAAAAY over the top. However, in the last 18 months, I must have become more comfortable with his goofily excited character or something, because I thought he was absolutely brilliant. I honestly think that Tucci is one of the greatest actors alive, and he certainly proved that in Catching Fire. Every moment that he was on screen was just amazing, and, when he wasn't, that mediocrity of the main characters shone oh so bright. Also, I really enjoyed the newfound depth of Elizabeth Banks' Effie, who was much more tolerable than in the first film, and the much more likable gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

In comparison to the first Huger Games film, Catching Fire reigned supreme, in my opinion. It did so not because of its originality or excitement but because of its better performances and more enjoyable minor characters. While the concept of centering the entire film around the games themselves AGAIN may have been lacking in originality, it was still quite dramatic and kept my interest. I assume that Mockingjay will feature a lot more originality, although I'm sure the fact that it has been turned into two films will diminish its drama and excitement. Regardless of what the future may hold for The Hunger Games, I must say that I am intrigued, and I can't wait to see what happened next. Unfortunately, I don't see much Stanley Tucci in my Hunger Games radar, so that could mean it's all downhill from here. We'll see! I give The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 3.45 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thor: The Dark World


As "Phase 2" of Disney's never-ending Marvel overload continues, expectations for stand-alone, superhero movies have plummeted, because we know how great it is when all these guys get together. People used to get genuinely ecstatic about each and every superhero film, but, now, people are just waiting around for the next Avengers film. Personally, I have even more excitement for the new X-Men film, but most of my excitement can be attributed to the great mass of superheroes and great actors that will be featured in the film. However, for the moment, let's pretend that The Avengers never happened. What are my expectations for the Thor sequel, now?... Well... they are even lower! I'm sorry, but I didn't care for the first Thor film, and he was easily my least favorite Avenger. So, with that being said, my only motivation to see Thor: The Dark World was to avoid missing something crucial in the Marvel universe. Also, Loki is kinda the man...

My least favorite part of this sequel was the insignificance of the bad guys, Malekith and Algrim. Of course, their existence meant the end of the earth, but their motivation and power came off as a bit ambiguous, in my opinion. Basically, it was as if they needed someone to take the evil attention away from Loki, but, in the end, it just fell flat. Aside from that, the plot wasn't too bad. However, two weeks after watching the film, it is kind of hard to remember many details. So, maybe it wasn't so great either. I do remember that I was impressed with the way that Loki's return to Asgard was dealt with, and the ending was much less abrupt, compared to the first Thor film. Additionally, I enjoyed the story surrounding Thor and Jane Foster, played by Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, a lot more than in the first film. It wasn't quite as forced.

Loki is easily Thor's saving grace, and there was no doubt that Tom Hiddleston carried The Dark World farther than any other character. Unfortunately for us, Loki is expected to be absent from the second Avengers, which will make it interesting to see how the development of a bad guy may engulf the second Captain America film, due out in April. Aside from Loki, mediocrity was the name of the Thor character game. Below are a few exceptions...

As I said before, the bad guys, played by Christopher Eccleston and Mr. Echo (I'm not going to try to type out his real name), were pretty much pointless, and I highly doubt that anyone truly enjoyed their presence in the film. Also, Erik Selvig, played by Stellan Skarsgard, continued to become less and less important in the grand scheme of the Thor storyline. To me, this reduction of importance is quite disappointing, as he was one of the few characters that I enjoyed in the first film. My final negative is the big man himself, Thor!, who is the stupidest and most awkward of all the Avengers, yet he manages to be the only thing that ties every super's story together. Regardless, I can't stand him! Seriously, if you took Chris Hemsworth and put him in Troy or Clash of the Titans, you would realize just how ridiculous this character turned out to be.

Loki is the man! This film would have been more appropriately titled Loki: The Cooler Brother. I mean, is there any way that we can get Loki in The Avengers 2? I'll let you keep Thor, Joss! Just give me a little Loki. I predict a bright future for Tom Hiddleston, and I can't wait to see what's in store for him. As was the case with the first Thor film, I really enjoyed the character of Heimdall, played by Idris Elba. His wisdom and loyalty is a great accent to the various rebellious characters throughout Asgard, and I really wish he would find his way into an Avengers movie.

In comparison to its preceding Phase 2 project, Iron Man 3, I would put Thor: The Dark World on exactly the same level. The film was better than Thor's last stand-alone film, just like Iron Man 3 was better than Iron Man 2, featured a lot of hearty laughing moment, just like Iron Man 3, and contributed very little to the overall, Avengers-based storyline (with what we know at this point), just like Iron Man 3. I don't know how everyone else feels, but, after seeing Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, I am afraid that these Marvel films are going to become a bit too generic. Don't get me wrong... I enjoyed the story, some of the acting, and, of course, I will go back to see Thor 3. However, as the movie wrapped up, I had that same underwhelming feeling that came after Iron Man 3. It was that same feeling you get after you watch any plot-twisting, action-filled, depth-lacking movie on the big screen. You know what I'm talking about! At this point, I just hope that The Avengers: Age of Ultron has something unique and exciting in store for Marvel fans. If not, Phase 2 may turn out to be the highest grossing and least exciting of the infinite future Marvel phases. I give Thor: The Dark World 3.12 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

12 Years a Slave

If you've read any sort of pre-Oscar news, over the past few months, you would have certainly been exposed to the praise of 12 Years a Slave. Truthfully, that's the only exposure that I really had to the film. I can't even remember watching a trailer, though I probably did at some point. Regardless, my expectations were surely lacking, aside from my assumption that this would be an "Oscar favorite" type film. The problem with those Oscar favorites is the fact that they are extremely hit or miss with my viewing pleasures. For instance, in 2011 (we will leave the amazingness of 2012 out of this), there were Oscar-nominated films that I loved, like The Help, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, and Extremely Loud and incredibly Close, but there were also some that I didn't love, like Hugo and The Descendants. Plus, there were two that I could not stand or understand (cough... The Artist, cough cough... The Tree of Life). With that being said, I was afraid that 12 Years a Slave might be one of those historic films that drives The Academy crazy, offers up a few good performances, and leaves me less than satisfied. However, I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to catch a film like this, coming to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The only big negative in the storyline of 12 Years a Slave is the fact that this story is unfortunately one of truth. There are multiple dramatically honest moments that truly make you feel for the individuals who were forced to endure such horrific circumstances. Here in the South, the faults of slavery continue to bring out emotions on both sides of the spectrum. As for me, it's an issue that I believe is best left in the past, but I won't argue with a great tale, such as 12 Years a Slave, being brought out, in an effort to make a new generation of moviegoers and, most importantly, Americans aware of what evil once engulfed our nation. Kudos to the late Solomon Northup for publicizing his story and giving folks like me the opportunity to realize the severity of slavery in the South. There is a moment in the film where Northup, played beautifully by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is hung from a tree, remaining low enough to hold himself up by the tips of his toes. Never, in all of my movie watching, have I ever felt more engaged in a scene, and I honestly began to want for breath. There were many long, artistic scenes designed in the same manner, each of which were amazingly engaging. The only true criticism I have of the way the film developed was how it dealt with the "12 Years" aspect. To me, the events of the film felt more like "12 Months," and, as the end of the film approach, I kept waiting for a "10 years latter" or something similar. Then, the movie was wrapping up, and I had to rethink the time frame in which I had imagined the previous events of the film. Not to take away from the great story, but it is something that you can be more aware of, if you do go watch the film.
It may be early in the Oscar season, but I would bet a good sum of money that 12 Years a Slave will be favored to win best ensemble at the SAG Awards, in January. If I got to choose who won, you could bet everything you had on their victory. It's quite early to make such a bold prediction, but I was so, so impressed with these amazing performances.
The only character that I didn't care for, in what turned out to be an extremely but necessarily large cast, was Alfre Woodard's Mistress Shaw, whose role I felt was too small. She offered a lot of wisdom, in her short time on screen, which I would have loved to see more of. I don't know how much of this was due to the amount of time she was discussed in Northup's book or how much was due to the fact that there were so many great characters and so little time in which to enjoy their presence. Regardless, I wish she would have been a bit more prevalent.
Where do I begin?... There were so many great performances in this film that there is no way I can touch on them all, so you will have to watch for yourself. Chiwetel Ejiofor was brilliant in the lead role, and he will surely merit a best actor nom for his performance. Paul Dano's Tibeats, a full-fledged slave-hater, was probably the most entertaining character in the film. Dano is a fantastic actor, and I thought he did such a great job in this role. Benedict Cumberbatch and Sarah Paulson also gave fantastic performances. However, there is absolutely no performance that could possibly measure up to that of Michael Fassbender! I was utterly blown away by Fassbender, who is quickly becoming one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, and, honestly, his performance was probably the best I have seen since I started this blog. Kudos to Fassbender and anyone involved in the casting of this film. It was absolutely brilliant.
Much of my praise is likely brought on by the fact that I had no clue what to expect when I headed in to watch 12 Years a Slave. Regardless, I'm so, so, so glad that I decided to watch this film, particularly in the theater, where everything just tends to come to life a bit more. 12 Years a Slave is one of those movies that tugs at your emotional heart-strings, and we can all use a little emotion in each of our movie-watching lives. Kudos to director Steve McQueen and the entire cast of 12 Years a Slave for allowing us to share a unique story about a man who was not even meant to be a victim of the injustice that was occurring in the days of slavery. I could continue praising this film, but, instead, I want to challenge all of you guys to go out and watch this movie and see what it has to offer. I give 12 Years a Slave 3.78 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Last Vegas

The obvious selling point for Last Vegas is the star-studded, veteran (nicely put) lineup that was intended to hook older viewers. If you sit a 40-70 year old down and ask them whether they have a certain affection for one of the four Last Vegas stars (Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, or Kevin Kline), they are almost certain to enjoy at least one of these great actors' storied careers. Even at 22, I'm a huge fan of both Kline and Freeman, and, of course, I loved Douglas in Wall Street. However, at 22, I really thought the humor of Last Vegas might be a bit too innocent and old fashioned to successfully entertain someone like me, who is used to the R-rated comedy world of The Hangover and Seth Rogen. Although it was sold as The Hangover for old people, I didn't really think it would be able to deliver those Hangover laughs. Nevertheless, in an attempt to appease my better half, I decided to give Last Vegas a chance and skip out on Ender's Game. Maybe Ender won't blow me up with his cool powers that I don't really understand (on account of I didn't get to watch the movie).

Well, I was right about one thing... plot-wise, Last Vegas was far from The Hangover for old people. Actually, the only similarity it had to The Hangover was its location, and the fact that four men were involved. Honestly, it felt more like Grown Ups, featuring even OLDER stars! The whole concept that was embraced by Grown Ups (not Grown Ups 2) of a group of friends coming together and not really being in the same spot they were when they were last together was the exact same plot of Last Vegas. Luckily for Last Vegas, the jokes were absolutely hilarious! Now, I do want to give this disclaimer: I was in a great mood last weekend, so I was more apt to be laughing than many might be. Nevertheless, I thought this movie was hilarious, and I thought the jokes were perfectly balanced between the crudeness that younger audiences enjoy and the goofy, old people humor that goofy, old people enjoy. The only super-noticeable flaw was the way in which the old geezers obtained their gigantic suite, at their hotel. It was way out there, and, obviously, they couldn't come up with a better way to get them to their "party room."

The selection of Douglas, DeNiro, Freeman, and Kline for these roles was absolutely spot-on. I was very pleased with the way that their varying degrees of humor mixed with one another. From the unfunny Douglas to the hilariously silly Kline, there was rarely a moment where I felt anyone was taken out of their respective element.

The only character that I did not care for was Lonnie, played by Romany Malco, whose jokes just failed to resonate with me. He really wasn't necessary and eventually became a lame excuse to have 50 Cent appear in the film.

As the funnier of the four, I would have to say that Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman shone a bit more than their Last Vegas costars. Although Kline was noticeably younger (10 years more so than Freeman), his hilarity overcame this oddity. I don't think I've ever seen Kline in a role that I did not enjoy. He may not be the biggest name in the game, but he always brings it home, as he continues to be underrated. Kudos to all of these guys for bringing on the laughs, and kudos to the filmmakers for getting them all together.

Gravity, Captain Phillips, and, now, Last Vegas--how many unexpected surprises can one guy take? Regardless, I'm just glad to have the opportunity to watch these great films. I know that Last Vegas is in a completely different universe, compared to the others, but I appreciate a good comedy just as well as a good drama. In fact, I dare say that it is harder to make a good comedy in this era of films, considering that the comedy hits have recently been limited to Melissa McCarthy and animation, on top of the fact that cool, 3D graphics don't lend their hand to many grown up comedies. Anyway, considering how low my expectations were, Last Vegas may be the most surprisingly good film of 2013. Hopefully, when I approach the age of 100, my friends and I will also be kicking it in Vegas. If we can't make it that far, we can always just watch this movie. I give Last Vegas 3.34 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Captain Phillips

I know this review is quite delayed, but, unfortunately, I have this thing called school that takes up a lot of my time. Over the past few weeks, this thing has been absolutely insane, so please forgive me!

Each and every trailer that I saw for Captain Phillips resulted in absolute boredom! I just didn't think the film would entertain me much at all, but, like its predecessor, Gravity, the positive reviews for Captain Phillips were rolling in, causing me to rethink my expectations. It's been a good while since Tom Hanks has had a successful, non-Toy Story film, and it is good to see folks appreciating him again. Sure, he may have made some poor choices in taking roles in Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne, but the man can act. His amazing career has garnered such respect as mine, and, heading in to watch Captain Phillips, I was hopeful that his performances in both this film and the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks would get him back on track...

Considering that I expected very little, plot-wise, Captain Phillips was much better than expected. However, it did take a little too long for the drama to get going. In an attempt to create an emotional connection to the character, the film opened with Hanks' Phillips talking with his wife, as she drives him to the airport. To me, the introductory scene did very little to establish said connection but, instead, added unnecessary length to the film. As Hanks' dramatic performance progressed, he was able to create an emotional connection that no "talk with the wife" could possibly create. As the film moved onto the water, there were still some moments that I found unnecessary. Fortunately, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the film, which made up for the length.

Although I did expect a great performance from Tom Hanks, I never thought I would be so blown away by his relationship with his pirate kidnappers, particularly their leader, played by Barkhad Abdi. I expected the pirates to be portrayed as these evildoers, who would keep Captain Phillips in captivity. Instead, the root of their piracy was their attempt to do their job, as piracy was truly their only option. This innocence led to the true heart of the film, as Hanks' Phillips begins to connect with the young pirates, leading to the climactic ending that is sure to have an emotional effect on anyone who watches the film. Was Hanks' performance good?... Absolutely. But, in my opinion, the relationship between Phillips and the pirates was the key to the drama in this film.

There is very little, in this world, that I hate more than being wrong. Unfortunately, my expectations are on this horrible streak of failing me, from Don Jon to Gravity to, now, Captain Phillips. not only was Hanks performance great, but I also loved the performances of each of the pirates, as well as the great connection that developed between the pirates and Phillips. The plot was not fantastic, but it is a true story, so I don't know how you really fix that. Everything was drug out a bit, which may have taken away from the potential dramatic effect of the film. Thankfully, however, the drama was so, so real, and it was easy to put yourself in the shoes of Captain Phillips. For me, it would have undoubtedly led to my being seasick, but I probably would have been a bit worried about the pirates too. I give Captain Phillips 3.56 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Great Expectations: November 2013

Marvel and Disney may have done a great job with The Avengers franchise, as a whole, but there are very few sequel-meriting movie characters that I have come to despise as much as Thor. It could be Chris Hemsworth's portrayal of the character. It could be the fact that he doesn't fit in with the other Avengers. It could even be because of those long, flowing locks, featured in the picture above. Regardless, I don't like him, and I don't really expect my opinion of him to be changed by the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. The movie would be way more interesting if it centered on Loki or Heimdall or whoever it is that Mr. Echo is playing! I mostly just want us to all take a moment to realize that Marvel is not quite perfect, and, even though I will be watching Thor: The Dark World, I highly doubt it will live up to the previous three Disney-made Marvel films (Captain America, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3), each of which were absolutely amazing. Here are the films that I am actually looking forward to in November:

Last Vegas
(November 1)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
(November 22)
Delivery Man
(November 22)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Don Jon


Joseph Gordon Levitt has quickly become one of my favorite actors, and, from seeing him interviewed and watching him on hitRECord, I'm pretty sure he may be one of the nicest guys in show biz. I remember watching him on the red carpet, at the Oscars this year, and he was so star struck, because he got to meet Dustin Hoffman. This guy has been in the business since he was a kid, and he still has a great appreciation for great artistry of all kinds. With all that being said, my expectations were kind of high (and extremely hopeful), as JGL made his directorial debut. I don't know why, but I like to think that I have some sort of connection with JGL, and his success or failure is more personal to me than that of many other actors or directors (I'm sure he feels the same way about me!). There are just some actors, athletes, musicians, etc... that I like to think of as my friends. Examples: Jimmy Fallon, Steve Carrell, Aaron Sorkin, Brad Paisley, AWOLNATION, and on and on and on. Honestly, the topic of Don Jon didn't matter to me. I just wanted to see what Joseph Gordon Levitt could do, because we're such great friends and all...

Well... Don Jon is not a family film. That's for sure! In the beginning, I couldn't tell if the film was meant to be dramatic or if the entire thing was just making fun of addictions, specifically those of a sexual nature. However, as the film went on, a heart was found underneath all of that talk of pornography and chick flicks. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for the storyline, as it just left me unsatisfied throughout. There weren't really any negatives that I could point out, but it just lacked any sort of WOW moment that you want in a film. Maybe JGL just went a little bit overboard with the artistic presentation, missing an opportunity to tell a reflective, dramatic story. Also, the ending fizzled into a boring mess, which was quite disappointing.

Although Jon wasn't a typical JGL character, there was no doubt that the character was written by him for him. Was it a flawless performance?... No. But, I did enjoy the character. The best part of the film, in my opinion, was the family dynamic, which I didn't really expect to play such a huge role in the life of JGL's arrogant character. Without that family aspect, I don't know that I would have enjoyed the film at all.

Julianne Moore's Esther was probably the most awkward character of the year... Not the worst, but definitely awkward... At first, I didn't understand why she mattered, and, then, she started to connect with me, and, then, I was just baffled. Her character may have been intentionally awkward, but I think she could have been used in a better way throughout. Another character that was misused was Jon's sister, Monica, played by Brie Larson. There was no doubt that she was going to have a big moment, at some point in the film. Unfortunately, that moment came and went awkwardly and unnecessarily.

Jon's parents, played perfectly by Glenne Headly and Tony Danza, made the film at least ten times better, all by themselves. The hilarity was absolutely great, and I just wanted them to be in every single scene of the film. I haven't seen Headly in much, but she gave one heck of a performance in Don Jon.

Typically, I'm not overly critical of particular aspects of films, because I'm not really educated enough to pick them apart, from a technical manner. However, I found myself really analyzing every aspect of Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut. Maybe it's because I consider myself a fan of his... Maybe it's because I have an appreciation for what he does as an actor and with hitRECord... Regardless, I guess I just expect a lot of him. So, here are some generic criticisms: (1) Some of the jokes fell a bit flat (not all of them). (2) The ending was quite dull, after the loud, crazy tone of the rest of the film. (3) Much of the character development was unclear. Luckily for JGL, I still love him and hope that he keeps it up. He has a long career ahead of him, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to see most of his work to this point. Don Jon may not be a classic, but it could be a classic's predecessor. I give Don Jon 2.87 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 6, 2013



During my freshman year of college, I took two astronomy classes, to satisfy my general science requirements in my degree plan. Most people just settle for a simple biology class, but I chose astronomy! A bit of an odd choice, you might say, considering that I am a business major. However, I have a strange, unexplainable fascination with space... not the Hollywood version of space, made possible by Star Trek, Alien, and Star Wars, but rather the simplistic version that you find in the backyard in your small, unlit town of 2,000 people, in southern Mississippi. It's about the real, awe-inspiring images and views that display the simple elegance of God's vast and beautiful creation. Few things are more elegant, and the university offered me the ability to learn about my fascination, while gaining useful credit hours. In fact, when I was young, it was my dream to become the "President of NASA" (or whatever its equivalent title may be). I remember telling people my dream, and they would immediately direct their discussion to my "obvious" desire to become an astronaut and go to outer space. I would entertain these comments with an "Are you crazy?" or a good ole "Heck No!". There is no way that I would EVER allow my own being to be shot into the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. That is insane! And, after watching the many nerve-racking trailers for Gravity, I was pretty certain that this film would solidify my lack of desire to be shot into space. Additionally, I thought it might decrease my desire to be shot into the movie theater, as it just looked boring. Then... the reviews! The only 2013 film that I have heard more praise about is Before Midnight, which I have yet to see. Honestly, I couldn't believe how well-received Gravity had been. Most films that rely heavily on a visual impression fail to succeed with some audiences, which is why I couldn't wrap my head around the 98% on the Tomatometer. So, in order to increase my understanding, I decided I should go watch Gravity.

Sometimes simplistic drama is better than the most complex film ever made, and Gravity utilizes that simplicity better than any film I've ever seen. Usually, I tend to hate films with very little dialogue and films with too big of an emphasis on visual effects, but that was not the case with Gravity. Scientifically, I don't know how likely all of the events in the film are to happen. I mean, I highly doubt this story has a chance of ever becoming true. I don't know if I've ever seen a film that involved so much good luck and bad luck, all within minutes of one another. Because of the extremities of the good and bad, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I apologize for my brevity in plot explanation, but I don't really know how to go about analyzing the storyline, without giving too much away to those of you who have yet to see the film. I will say that if you want something deep and confusing, go watch Prometheus or something. Gravity is perfectly simple enough to keep you entirely intrigued, while allowing you to appreciate the amazing visuals.

As expected, Gravity was a total Clooney-Bullock show, and both of them did a great job. Clooney's Matt Kowalski was basically real-life Clooney... but in space. On the other hand, Bullock's Ryan Stone was an amazing character who gave a perfect reflection of on-earth problems... but in space. I never expected the self-reflective moments that Stone brought on, as they were really special to watch. If Bullock truly earned an Oscar with her performance in The Blind Side, she deserves three for her performance in Gravity.

If I can tell you one thing, after watching Gravity, it's that I made a good decision to never, EVER pursue going to space. Don't get me wrong... it's great! But, I don't want debris flying at me at zero-gravity. That's insane! Nevertheless, because of my sheer fascination with space, Gravity's visuals were some of the most impressive that I have ever seen. I don't think I've been as impressed with a 3D experience since Avatar "blessed" us with such amazing technology. What made Gravity a bit more impressive than Avatar was director Alfonso Cuaron's ability to create such an amazing world, without actually creating a new world. Rarely do we see 3D movies that are grounded in reality. There was nothing in Gravity that felt unreal, aside from the fact that it was all happening at one time, and I think that's what impressed me the most. If you will go into the theater and allow yourself to truly experience Gravity for all that it is, I promise that your heart will begin to race, just as mine did. I give Gravity 3.76 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Great Expectations: October 2013

Historically (for me, at least), October has been one of the slower movie months of the year, trailing only January and September, which are terrifyingly slow. Luckily for us, that is not the case in 2013 (for me, at least, again). Not only is there an intriguing horror remake coming to the big screen, in Carrie, but there isn't a Paranormal Activity film coming out! Thank God! Actually, the number of horror movies surrounding the Halloween season is pretty slim for 2013, meaning that Carrie has an opportunity to really steal the show. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass, Hugo) is one of the most talented young stars in the business, so I can't wait to see what she is able to do with this classic character. Most importantly, however, October means that AMC's Fearfest is on its way! No horror is better than classic Jason, Freddy, and Michael Meyers, and we get 18 days of them this month. Be sure to check them out, starting October 14 on AMC.

Here is a look at some of the other films that I'm looking forward to this month:

(October 4)
Kill Your Darlings
(October 16)
The Fifth Estate
(October 18)

Sunday, September 29, 2013



The first time that I saw the trailer for Prisoners was sometime in July, and I must say that it hooked me. Hugh Jackman's great screaming and the film's mysterious aura were enough to convince me that this film may actually have something more to it than most of your typical kidnapping, whodunit mysteries. However, as we moved from July to August to September, I had seen the trailer about 11 bazillion times, and I began to question whether the film really had anything else to offer, aside from the dramatic moments in the trailer. The same thing happened with me and World War Z, over the summer, and I still have yet to see that film. Luckily for Prisoners, I had not been to the theater in almost ONE WHOLE MONTH, and I was having serious withdrawals. Thank goodness that Orange is the New Black was there for me, as I attempted to retain my sanity throughout September. So, anyways, I was reluctant and not expecting much, but the movies really needed me... and I wouldn't wanna leave them hanging.

There is no doubt that Prisoners had one of the most unpredictable storylines of the year. Not that the outcome was totally out of left field or anything, but I don't think anyone watching the film could have been absolutely certain of what was going to happen. Personally, I don't think of unpredictability as an overly exciting quality of a film, because I don't try to figure movies out. I just let them happen to me. So, the one aspect of the film that everyone seems to love just doesn't really matter to me. However, throughout the entire film, the drama was very, very real, and that I do appreciate. The only real problem that I had with the plot was how slowly they dwelled on each piece of the plot, making for an unnecessarily long run time. Other than that, kudos to the filmmakers for keeping it dramatic and interesting.

Everything I read says the same exact thing... "Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal are great!" and "Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Paul Dano are underused!" I'm sorry, but I disagree (for the most part). As I said already, the run time was waaaaay too long, so I don't believe that anybody was underused. Sure, Viola Davis and Paul Dano are great actors, but that doesn't mean that they HAVE TO be the leads or steal the show. Also, Jake Gyllenhaal was NOT great! Was he bad?... No... But he wasn't great.

The only performance that I did not care for was that of Melissa Leo, who played Holly Jones, the mother-figure of Paul Dano's Alex. Her makeup and hair just didn't look real at all, so I couldn't take her seriously. That's probably all it was, though.

Following his Golden Globe winning performance in Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman did not disappoint as crazed, confused father-figure, Keller Dover. Prisoners contained a lot of emotion, but no other character's emotion was brought into the spotlight as much as Keller's. Additionally, Maria Bello, who played Keller's Wife, Grace, was absolutely phenomenal. Of the parental characters, no one showed a wider range of emotions than Grace, which made Bello's performance all the more impressive.

Although I didn't absolutely love Prisoners, I would definitely suggest it for those of you who like to try to figure stuff out. Just make sure that you use the bathroom before you go into the theater! Jackman definitely has a shot at another Oscar nom with his performance in this film, so congrats to him. Maybe his newfound success will help him steer clear of Wolverine, after Days of Future Past is finished. We all know he needs to hang up that towel! I'm just glad that I finally had something to go watch! Even though my birthday is in September, it sure sucked to be without movies to watch for a month. If you want a slow, mellow film that is quite dry, rough, and dramatic, Prisoners is for you. It just wasn't enough for me to have sacrificed 2.5 hours of my life for it. I give Prisoners 3.14 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Must See TV: Emmy's 2013

Now, I'm no TV critic, but it is safe to say that I watch more television than the average individual, so I consider myself a reputable source. Unfortunately, I don't get to watch as many shows as I would like to. In fact, there are more that I want to watch than I actually have time to watch, but that is not your problem! I say all of that to discredit the list that I am about to show you as a complete analysis of all TV shows. This list is my own list of "Must See TV." These are the shows that I required myself to watch as soon as I could, over the past TV season, because I love them so very much. However, my love is personal, and I do not expect anybody to love the exact same shows as me. I'm not even going to claim that these are the best shows on television... Let them Emmy's do that. These are just the few shows that I was the most engulfed in throughout the year, and I want to share this with you, as I truly love my TV shows. Sure, there are movies that can capture your heart and memories, but nothing can connect you to characters like great television. So, here are the five shows that I loved the most, over the course of the 2012-2013 TV season:

5. The Office
The Office is undoubtedly one of my favorite comedies of all time, and I actually started watching the show before it was popular and continued to watch the show after it had lost its popularity. If you didn't get a chance, you can read My Farewell to The Office, and maybe you will fully understand my love for this amazing show. There is no doubt that the final season was better than the previous, which probably wouldn't have landed anywhere near this list, but I still hate to have to put this great show at number five. I must be accurate, though!

4. The Celebrity Apprentice

Aside from my parents, I highly doubt that any of my readers actually watch The Apprentice, which is a darn shame! I know that many people hate Donald Trump, but I love him and the entire concept that surrounds the show. Unfortunately, the future of The Apprentice is not so clear, so let's pray that we get another season. Regardless, I love this show, and Trump is my bro... And I rhymed...
3. American Horror Story: Asylum
Had I made a list like this last year, there is no doubt that American Horror Story would have topped the list. There is no other show on television that has the ability to shock me, each and every week, quite like AHS. However, I didn't enjoy season 2 quite as much as season 1, probably because I knew that I was going to be shocked (if that's even possible). Regardless, it was still fantastic, and I cannot wait for season 3!

2. The Newsroom
I know that a lot of critics out there really, really hate The Newsroom, but I cannot figure out WHY?!? This new show, from the genius mind of Aaron Sorkin, was able to bring the news industry to its knees in each and every episode, which could be the reason we never hear any good NEWS about the show. The Newsroom's presence on this list is a result of its first season, which is the season that qualifies for the Emmy's next week. However, the season 2 finale is on tonight! So, go turn on HBO... right now!

1. New Girl
For me, the 2012-2013 television season will forever be remembered as the year that New Girl reigned supreme! There is no doubt that I enjoyed the creation of "Jess and Nick" and the hilarity that ensued, but there was never a dull moment throughout the entire season. No show has made me laugh this much in a single season since the third season of The Office, which is probably my favorite season of any comedy ever. So, kudos to New Girl! They may not have a chance to win next week, but they certainly take home all the imaginative awards that I give out as The Average Critic.

As an avid movie viewer, it is understood that I love watching The Oscars each and every year. In fact, I love pretty much any awards show. I even watched the VMAs this year (good grief, Miley!). However, there is absolutely no awards show that I love more than The Primetime Emmy's, and you can take that to the bank!

Here's the deal:
Even though I usually enjoy two or three of the best picture nominees at The Oscars, rarely am I truly in love with the film on a super-personal level. And, if the awards aren't personal, I could care less who wins. Sure, I may be pulling for a movie in a category or two, but, for the most part, I just want there to be some sort of huge upset... which rarely happens at The Oscars! When it comes to TV, though, if my show that I LOVE is nominated for an award, I'm going to cheer them on until their award is given out, and I will be holding out hope for every show, until the final award is passed out. Unlike The Oscars, The Emmy's are unpredictable, so make sure you watch next week!

Here are some folks, in various categories, that I will be cheering on, next Sunday:
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), Lead Actress in a Drama
Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Lead Actor in a Drama
Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Supporting Actress in a Drama
Mandy Patinkin (Homeland), Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jane Fonda (The Newsroom), Guest Actress in a Drama
Margo Martindale (The Americans), Guest Actress in a Drama
Henry Bromell (Homeland), Writing for a Drama
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Lead Actress in a Comedy
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Lead Actor in a Comedy
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live), Guest Actress in a Comedy
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory), Guest Actor in a Comedy
Greg Daniels (The Office), Writing for a Comedy
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum), Lead Actress in a Mini Series or Movie
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum), Supporting Actress in a Mini Series or Movie
Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story: Asylum), Supporting Actor in a Mini Series or Movie
American Horror Story: Asylum, Miniseries or Movie
The Voice, Reality-Competition
Saturday Night Live, Variety Series
The Colbert Report, Variety Series
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Variety Series
Anybody but John Stewart, Variety Series
The Big Bang Theory, Comedy Series

To my movie lovers,
Don't worry... I'm not turning this into a TV blog! There just isn't much going on, movie-wise, in September, and I needed something to write about. Hang in there! There are many more reviews to come...