After a very long recess, I am back at writing my thoughts on film motivated by the latest piece from one of our best directors: Mr. Quentin Tarantino.
There is much I could tell you and share about the past year. About 10 months have passed since my last contribution to this tiny creation of mine. Fortunately for those who may still stumble upon this blog of mine, I will not bore you with the details of what happened or did not happen between then and now. Instead, I will attempt to give you my very succinct impressions about the best films I watched this year (released in 2016 or prior) despite my almost complete absence from the blogosphere.
In total, I watched 111 films in the last calendar year (7 more than I watched in 2015). The average score was a very decent 3.28 out of 5, which tells me I’ve managed to avoid a lot of duds. Notwithstanding the relatively high average, I only scored 4 movies at 4.5 out of 5, and none managed a 5 out of 5.
Without further ado, below is a list of the best films I watched in 2016 grouped by rating, but in no discernible order beyond that.
How quickly do months fly by when you are busy. It seems like only a week ago I posted my last review. As quickly as my newfound motivation to blog a bit more came to me on January 1st, as quickly it evaporated not from a lack of desire, but from a lack of energy.
With a bit of a delay, I share with you my brief thoughts on the films I had the chance to watch in the last month of 2015 and the first of 2016. A total of 21 films were watched, 12 in December and 9 in January. The average rating was a very good 3.35 out of 5. The following are ordered in the way they were seen:
It’s been just over a month since my last post on this blog of mine. Though my attempt was to continue to keep it flowing with new reviews and monthly round-ups, there was this mammoth-size event looming on the horizon: the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
After a forced long hiatus, I’m back at blogging about some of my favorite things. In an effort to make this blog more representative of my interests, my monthly round-ups will now include short reviews of books read and videogames played (even if not completed) in addition to my usual run-down of films.
Below, the first part of a set of short reviews on anything I have had the pleasure to watch in the previous months.
May and June have now passed. The summer seems to be already on its way out and The Blog of Big Ideas is ready to post a bi-monthly recap of all of the films covered since May 1st. 23 films in total but only three are in the running to the shortlist of the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Best Films Ever.
Here they are in the order in which they were watched:
IMDB TOP 250: LA CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
One of the most celebrated films of the 1990s is a sophisticated crime thriller reminiscent of the film noir era.
With the help of an excellent cast led by the stand-out performance of Kim Bassinger, LA Confidential is a film about deception, corruption, greed, love and the advent of the sensationalist press that still feels relevant today.
Full of twists and surprises, the film is a lot of fun to watch, inviting for repeat viewing. Perhaps not deserving of such high marks on IMDB, but highly recommended nonetheless.
♦ Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Films Ever ♦
LA VIE EN ROSE (2007)
A great biopic with a wonderful lead performance by Marion Cotillard. Find my full review here
♦ Candidate to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Films Ever ♦
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)
A one-of-a-kind script brought to life by one hell of a cast. Find my full review here
SMOKIN’ ACES (2006)
There is something about the charicaturesque ensemble of characters and the often ridiculous proportions of the action that make Smoking Aces a satisfying experience, especially if it is seen on a big screen and with the volume turned up.
Occasionally it takes itself a bit too seriously, pausing for dramatic effect to disappointing results. The film does best when it sticks to its over-the-top antics and improbable set of circumstances. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.
Genre: Drama/ Comedy/ Thriller
Cast: Jamie Foxx (Django), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), Kerry Washington (Broomhilda)
Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino
It usually takes less than 30 seconds to be able to tell if you’re watching a Quentin Tarantino film. In Django Unchained, the director of modern classics like Pulp Fiction opens the story as he usually does: with a hell of a lot of confidence; the kind that drives him to splash the screen with huge blood red letters that go through the main credits as the soundtrack quickly asserts itself to the sound of the title song Django! (by L. Bacalov and R. Roberts). The tone is confident and the film declares its arrival without a second to spare. My appreciation of Tarantino has always been rooted in his attention to detail, where even something as seemingly trivial as the credits can become part of the narrative.
My relationship with film this year has started in earnest. After a lackluster month of December in which I watched very few films, I decided to play catch-up and, at the same time, aim for some of the quality films I missed last year, with only a couple of exceptions and a few repeats.
Following is a list of all the films I have watched so far this year. I have written a small review for each film, with the exception of those I have already analyzed on this blog:
50/50 ( Jonathan Levine – 2011)
A well-written, efficient and heartfelt film about overcoming adversity and deepening relationships with the ones you love. A very compelling Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars alongside Seth Rogen playing his usual self with a bit more restrain and depth in a film that needed some of his warm comic relief.
50/50 handsomely balances comedy with drama, giving more room to the former until the final few scenes unfold.
I would have still liked a film that was a bit more personal and less lighthearted, yet still infused with some of the comedy that made it work so well.
Rating: 3.5/5 (good)
It is, like every random list you might find in the web, subject to personal taste. It is also a list that is impaired by the absence of some of the films that were considered among the best in the last full calendar year of movies among which are titles like The King’s Speech (Oscar winner for Best Picture) and True Grit. However, I can assure you that my analysis is based on a passionate interest in film, having spent an infinite amount of hours watching countless amounts of movies, reading film criticism, listening to interviews made to some of the best exponents of the medium, and having spent enough time to interpret and dissect what I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching.
My rating system will be based on a scale of 0 to 5. The higher the number, the better the movie.
A score of 5 will be extremely rare as it is reserved to those movies that I consider “fantastic” and pretty much “flawless”. Less rare but still very difficult to come by will be those with a score of 4.5 which would be just a step bellow, in the realm of “masterpiece”. The great and really good movies will mostly fall under a score of 4 to 3.5. Scores falling between 3 and 2.5 will be considered acceptable and average respectively. Once we hit 2 and 1.5 we are talking about movies with very few redeemable qualities that are poor in various aspects. Anything bellow that, well, it’s simply horrible.
Here are my picks for the ten best pictures of 2010 and a brief summary of what made them so great:
1. Inception (4.5) : a highly complex story that surprises, entertains and stimulates all of your senses. It is not only highly original material, but it’s a blockbuster that does not over-rely in the usual niches of action/thrillers. The film moves with amazing pace. It’s restless, emotional, intense and incredibly smart. The product could have been awful, but instead it was the finest work Christopher Nolan has ever produced.
2. Toy Story 3 (4.5): the very emotional end to the saga that defined and created the most consistent studio of the last 15 years: Pixar. It is a fit ending for a trilogy that connected with audiences of all ages because its message relates to everyone who has ever experienced friendship and camaraderie.
3. The Social Network (4): a fascinating story about the rise and fall of the minds behind the biggest social networking site in the world: Facebook. The script moves ahead with audacity and intensity. The casting was bold and inspired. Most importantly though, the movie resonated with moviegoers and critics alike for its raw and sometimes tragic portrait of a generation so consumed by technology that it has started to forget what makes us human.
4. Black Swan (4): despite being a very predictable story, this film delivers constant thrills. Visually, the movie has a stunning mysterious and tragic aura that greatly enhances the effect of the story. The acting was, without question, sensational, elevating the film with every gesture and every detail.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (3.5): Hilarious. Visually rich and extremely original.
6. Salt (3.5): explosive, incredibly intense and with enough twists and turns to keep you at the edge of your seat. Angeline Jolie once again shows her unmatched ability to play an action heroine in a role that thrills and engages.
7. The Fighter (3.5): great acting, very emotional and moving story. Christian Bale steals the show.
8. Let me In (3.5): a remake that does not feel like a remake. A quiet, slow-paced but incredibly suspenseful film that shows that vampire movies can be of great quality when done right.
9. Date Night (3.5): it is predictable in its formula, but Tina Fey and Steve Carrel have a comedic ease and chemistry that elevates the movie to hilarious levels. In its ridiculousness and over-the-top antics, the movie still manages to portray a believable couple trapped in the middle of an unbelievable series of events.
10. 127 Hours (3.5): an acting tour-de-force by James Franco. The movie is almost 90 minutes of agonizing desperation, tragedy, nostalgia and physical pain, but the crafty and talented directing together with the amazing acting give the movie a power that inspires.
Honorable Mention – Kick-Ass (3.5): it received mixed-reviews when it premiered and is, perhaps the only film in this list that has not received the acclaim of the rest I have touched upon. However, there is an absurdity and outrageous quality to this film that makes it interesting, entertaining and excitingly controversial.
It wasn’t a particularly good year for movies I believe. There have certainly been better years in recent memory such as 2007 when we got classics like There Will be Blood and No Country of Old Men (two of the best movies ever made) in the same year.
No movie, in my opinion, deserved to receive a flawless or perfect score for I believe they were all flawed in some way or another. Inception could have been well-served with a more twisted and less linear quality to the “dreams”, while Toy Story 3 could have relied a little less on typically grandiose Hollywood scenes.
I promise to review the other notable exclusions in the near future when I have the opportunity to see them.