Best Movies of 2015

Post by: Stephen Feely

For this list, I am ranking my top 10 best films of 2015. This list is being determined by the overall quality of the film rather than how well it did at the box office or what the general public’s perception is. This list is entirely opinion, based upon my own viewing of the films. I haven’t had the time to see The Revenant or Hateful Eight before compiling the list, so once I have seen those films I will update it if need be. But until then, here are my Top 10 Best Films from 2015.

  1. Creed– Managing to recapture the spirit of the original Rocky film in a fresh and vibrant way, Creed manages to be another stellar production from the dynamic duo of director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station).

 

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  1. Mad Max– One of the best action films of recent years, Mad Max sees George Miller at his directorial best, by crafting a film with brilliant effects and visuals plus a surprisingly strong story to back it all up.

 

  1. It Follows– Despite not being the largest fan of most horror films, It Follows earned my respect. The film manages to be undoubtedly original and brilliantly subtle in its horror. A classic horror story to be told around modern camp fires.

 

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  1. Timbuktu– Sometimes the best films are not the most entertaining ones, but the ones that hold a message with true emotional depth. Timbuktu manages to portray its somewhat unknown world in a way that does justice by those who reside in that area of the world. No extra dramatization; just pure emotional cinema at its best.

 

  1. Inside Out– Representing a stellar return to form for animation giants Pixar, Inside Out is one of the most creative storylines of this year, managing to extract every possible emotion from the viewer while being fun for audiences of all ages.

 

  1. Amy– Documentaries never seem to get the recognition they deserve in comparison to other films, but Amy stood as my favorite film of 2015 for a long time by paying respectable homage to an incredibly talented artist who, despite her personal demons, was able to enrich the world with her music and soul.

 

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  1. Beasts of No Nation– A glorious and honest portrayal of war through the eyes of a child solider in Africa, Beasts of No Nation hits upon all the possible layers of war and struggles of youth to craft an excellent character study of those children whose lives are turned upside down by the crises occurring in their home countries.

 

  1. Carol– A simple love story told in a sublimely elegant manner, Carol benefits from an incredible “Mad-Men-like” attention to detail and two incredible performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in the lead roles. Deliberately paced and subtly brilliant, this film never shouts or makes a fuss, but leaves an impressionable mark.

 

  1. Room– Mesmerizingly powerful and shockingly emotional, this movie is never an easy film to watch, but manages to be far too gripping to ever turn away. It stands as a testament to the true bond between a mother and her child, while never compromising its grasp on reality and the frailties of the human condition.

 

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Honorable mentions: The Martian, Ex Machina, Sicario, Mr. Holmes, Slow West, Dope

 

  1. Spotlight– Brilliant and necessary filmmaking about brilliant and necessary journalism, Spotlight does everything perfectly, while never overdramatizing the situation at hand and keeping the journalists from being portrayed as larger than life heroes. The runaway best picture of the year for movie, Spotlight will be one of my favorite films of the decade when it is all said and done.

 

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What was your favorite film of the year?

Top 10 “Best Picture” Losers

Sometimes the Academy gets things wrong when giving out their awards every year, or sometimes there are just two very deserving films.  One of the reasons why I like watching the Oscars so much is because it gives me a chance to go on more extravagant movie rants to all of my friends who, quite frankly, couldn’t care less.  Over the years, there have been some controversial Best Picture winners, with some classics being snubbed for the award.  I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 films that were nominated for the award but never won (I will be making a different list for the best films that were not even nominated for the award in the first place).  I have put the movie that actually won the award in parenthesis.  Also, some of these films may have rightly lost to the actual winner, but if it is a great film then they are included in this list.  A movie didn’t have to be wrongly snubbed in order to garner a spot.  I hope you enjoy, and feel free to comment with any films you think were good enough to win the coveted gold statue.

10.  Raging Bull (Ordinary People): I don’t adore Ordinary People but I don’t hate it either. In the grand scheme of things, however, Raging Bull is one of the greatest films of all time from one of the greatest directors and would probably come as a shock to most film fanatics that it never won the coveted golden statue.

9.  Citizen Kane (How Green Was My Valley): Citizen Kane is regarded by many as one of the best and most influential films of all time. While I don’t quite rate it as high as some people do, I certainly think it was deserving of a Best Picture win. There’s a reason why everyone knows about Citizen Kane but hardly anyone talks about How Green Way My Valley I’ve never seen it, but I’ll let the public’s silence and lack of knowledge about the actual winner speak for itself.

8.  A Clockwork Orange (The French Connection): I can see why this film didn’t win Best Picture, namely because it was banned in England upon its initial release because of its content. That being said, this film is still one of the all time greats in my opinion and deserves a spot on this list even if I agree with the fact that it didn’t win best picture.

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7.  Goodfellas (Dances With Wolves): How Goodfellas lost to Dances With Wolves I will never know. Goodfellas is my favorite film to come from Scorsese and comes scarily close to challenging The Godfather for the title of best gangster movie of all time.

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6.  There Will be Blood (No Country for Old Men): Paul Thomas Anderson did an incredible job when crafting There Will be Blood and I think this movie will go down to be one of the best of this century. It’s a bold statement but I’ll stand by it. It is an intensive character study that just can’t be ignored and gets better with each viewing.

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5.  12 Angry Men (Bridge on the River Kwai): The Bridge on the River Kwai is a fantastic film, but when looking at everything 12 Angry Men does well, there is no questioning its cemented place in cinema history.

4.  Boyhood (Birdman): I have nothing against Birdman winning and in the long run, I think not winning Best Picture will turn out to be a good thing for Boyhood. That being said, it is still an incredible feat of cinema history and deserves a place on this list despite its young age.

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3.  Shawshank Redemption (Forrest Gump): People will hate me for saying this but Forrest Gump is one of the most overrated films of all time, and when compared to the brilliance that is the Shawshank Redemption, I am amazed that Shawshank didn’t win. Forrest Gump also snubbed many other great films, including Pulp Fiction, that year.

2.  Saving Private Ryan (Shakespeare in Love): Shakespeare in Love is fine, but Spielberg was at the peak of his powers in the 1990’s and Saving Private Ryan is one of his best films to date. Worse war movies have won the award, such as Platoon, when facing competition of a similar stature of Shakespeare in Love.

Honorable Mentions:

Fargo (The English Patient)

A Streetcar Named Desire (An American in Paris)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Lawrence of Arabia)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Chariot’s of Fire)

Social Network (King’s Speech)

Pulp Fiction (Forrest Gump)

Bonnie and Clyde (In the Heat of the Night)

Chinatown (Godfather Part II)

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (A Beautiful Mind)

Star Wars (Annie Hall)

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (Midnight Cowboy)

Jaws (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

1. Apocalypse Now (Kramer vs Kramer): I don’t want to take anything away from Kramer vs Kramer because it is a great film, but for me, Apocalypse Now is the best film of all time and therefore shouldn’t have lost. I theorize that it didn’t win because The Deer Hunter won the year before and the academy didn’t want to give the award to two Vietnam War films in back to back years.

Top 10 Acting Performances

For this list, I have compiled my favorite acting performances of all time, whether it be in the supporting or main role.  All the actors on this list did amazing jobs with the roles they were given, and used their skills to change the landscape of cinema history.

#10. Ben Kingsley: Ghandi– Playing an influential figure that has the stature of someone like Ghandi is never an easy task in the first place, but doing so while simultaneously carrying the weight of being the driving force for a film makes Kingsley’s performance all the more incredible.

#9.  Javier Bardem: No Country for Old Men– Ruthless, cold, insane, and the complete definition of what a badass should be, Javier Bardem stole the spotlight of the film from the supporting role and gave this Coen Bros. western thriller that extra edge it needed to be cemented into the history books.

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#8.  Gregory Peck: To Kill a Mockingbird– The epitome of what a gentleman should be, Peck commands the screen in his role as Atticus Finch and reminds us what it truly means to do your duty to humanity.

#7.  Daniel Day-Lewis: My Left Foot– Daniel Day-Lewis will go down as one of the best actors of all time, and his work in My Left Foot is a testament to his skill as an actor and, somehow, manages to upstage his near perfect performances in Lincoln and Gangs of New York.

#6.  Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs– The master of creepy was the best of many highlights to be taken away from this horror film. Acting with such confidence and creating a never-ending sense of tension and uneasiness, Hopkins steals the show, as Dr. Hannibal Lector, like never before seen in the horror genre.

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#5.  Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight– The best supporting role performance in all of cinema, with the potential to be even higher on this list in years to come, saw Ledger upstage the legendary Nicholson, redefine what it means to make a character your own, and delivered a flawless piece of acting that will not only be grounded in pop culture but will go on to define a generation.

#4.  Jack Nicholson: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest– Confident, crazy, yet always on point, Nicholson tops off a spectacular career of brilliant films with his portray of a man taking residence in a mental institution, locked in a battle of wits with the head nurse.

#3.  Robert De Niro: Raging Bull– De Niro is utterly absorbing and painfully brilliant with his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in quite arguably the finest film to come about from the De Niro Scorsese combination.

#2.  Daniel Day-Lewis: There Will Be Blood– While brilliant in My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis becomes the only actor to be entered twice on this list with a once in a lifetime performance as Daniel Plainview, the twisted, greedy oil tycoon. Uncompromising in every way, Day-Lewis plays this character with such vigor and raw emotion; it makes it impossible to turn away from the screen.

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Honorable Mentions- Jack Nicholson: The Shining, Daniel-Day Lewis: Lincoln, Henry Fonda: 12 Angry Men, Christoph Waltz: Inglorious Bastards, Anthony Perkins: Psycho, Marlon Brando: The Godfather, Sean Penn: Milk, Tom hanks: Forrest Gump

#1. Marlon Brando: On the Water Front– Brando redefined what it meant to be an actor with his portrayal of Terry Malloy, a performance that will forever be the bar that all actors will strive to achieve. With this performance he became more than just a contender; he become somebody (if you don’t get the reference go and watch the movie and have a better life because of it).

Think I missed one? Let me know what was your favorite acting performance of all time is!

Top Movies of the 2010s (So far….)

This was by far the hardest list for me to create because not only have we had a great decade in cinema so far, but it is also hard to judge the influence of films that are still babies in relation to the history of cinema.  After putting in the most work on any list I have posted, I have finally finished.  Here are my top movies from the first half of this current decade:

10.  Toy Story 3- As dark as you could possibly get for an animated Pixar film, this third installment in the near perfect trilogy shows us a different and more mature side to the classic Toy Story characters we all know and love, while pulling at our heartstrings in such a way that only Pixar knows how to do.

9.  Inception- One of the most original live action films we’ve seen in a while, this sci-fi action thriller is as a perfect example of what happens when you combine a perfect cast, a brilliant director, a wonder composer in Hans Zimmer, original storytelling and great editing/effects. No wonder this film was one of the great box office hits of 2010; it restored my faith in the concept that a film can be an intelligent, unique story as well as a commercial success.

8.  Django Unchained- While slightly ruined by the last 20 minutes of unnecessary violence that did nothing to enhance the film, Tarantino still manages to breathe new life into the Western genre by providing his own take on the Spaghetti Western. It also serves as a reminder of the brilliance of the combination of Waltz and Tarantino.

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7.  Fruitvale Station- One of the most under-appreciated films in my opinion, this short film (84 minutes) manages to accomplish so much in a short space of time. It allows us to grow so attached to a character that by the time it’s finished, it leaves you speechless. Celebrating the joys of life and second chances while condemning unnecessary violence, Fruitvale Station has perfect subtextual themes for this current decade.

6.  The Artist- In an age where technology has dwindled our attention span down to new lows, this silent, black and white film manages to recreate the magic of 1920s and 30s cinema in a way that is undeniably entertaining and enjoyable for all audiences of this century.

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5.  12 Years a Slave- The Schindler’s List of slavery, this Steve McQueen directed film beautifully yet gruesomely captures the hardships of slavery and the feelings of desperation felt during that time period. It is not an easy film to watch by any means, but in some year’s time, it may well be necessary viewing.

4.  Birdman- A brilliant directorial feat, this film is an exceptional showcase of what can happened when every aspect of filmmaking is done right and sets new ground for creativity in camera movements while accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of reviving Michael Keaton from cinematic limbo.

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3.  Short Term 12- As I wrote in my previous review on this site, Short Term 12 is essential cinema and so intimate in how relatable it is on an emotional level that it even gives Boyhood a run for its money. No movie has come as close to the emotional levels that Boyhood achieved than this film.

2.  The Social Network- Finding a movie that perfectly defines a generation in its themes, plot, and popularity is difficult, but with the Social Network, we may have just found that exact movie for this current generation of youth.  Jessie Eisenberg is a revelation as the Facebook pioneer and Fincher places his soon-to-be-classic fingerprints all over the film.

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Honorable Mentions: Hugo, Under the Skin, Beasts of the Southern Wild, American Hustle, Whiplash, The King’s Speech, Dallas Buyer’s Club, How to Train Your Dragon, Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity

1.  Boyhood- When I was making this list, there was no doubt in my mind that this film would be number one. Epic in its run time and the fact that it was filmed over 12 years, this film would still be able to stand on its own due to its immense emotional depth and realism. Boyhood manages to accomplish one of the quintessential goals of cinema: perfectly capture the definition of the human spirit.

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Top Movies of the 2000’s

They may not have been around long enough to be considered classics, but there is still no denying the importance and stature of these modern works of brilliance.  Here are my top films from the 2000s:

10.  The Pianist: While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Schindler’s List, the Pianist is still a brutally realistic and elegantly crafted Holocaust film that vividly portrays the fall and eventual rise of a Jewish piano player in the 1940’s.

9.  Casino Royale: The film that gave the Bond franchise a full makeover and recovery from the average Pierce Brosnan saga, Casino Royale is complex and intelligent while containing classic Bond film action sequences, charm, and smooth dialogue.

8.  No Country for Old Men: With the Coen Brothers’ at the peak of their powers, No Country for Old Men is a tense and darkly executed thriller with one of the most amazing villains ever conceived in Javier Bardem’s ruthless coin-flipping murderer.

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7.  The Hurt Locker: The pinnacle of movies about the Iraq war, this film made Kathryn Bigelow a legend in 2000s movie history by combining great action and brilliant acting with some of the tensest scenes ever captured on camera.

6.  Pan’s Labyrinth: A fairy tale for grown ups, this brilliantly executed foreign language film portrays the horrors of war in such a way that you begin to question what is more terrifying: the little girl’s reality or what is seemingly going on in her imagination.

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5.  Wall-e: My favorite Pixar film besides the Toy Story franchise due to its lovable characters and brilliant storytelling, this gorgeously animated futuristic adventure is entertainment at its purest with the timely subtext about the exponential effect we are having on the environment.

4.  The Departed: With one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, this intricate crime drama of cat and mouse between the Irish Mob and the Boston State Police Department is as brilliant as it is violent and contains all the classic Scorsese elements we have come to adore over the years.

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3.  There Will Be Blood: With heavy metaphors relating to religion, this film about a greedy and uncompromising oil tycoon is one of those deeply layered creations that only gets better the more you see it. The decent into insanity of the main character Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar winning performance, is followed perfectly by Paul Thomas Anderson as the film catapulted him into the history books.

2.  The Dark Knight: Changing what the definition of a superhero movie could be, this Christopher Nolan epic improved upon the first by showing that superhero movies could be so much more than simple box office hits by creating a dark, chaotic, crime noir.

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1.  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: By combining the elegant storytelling of the first movie and the epic battle sequences of the second, the third installment of this Peter Jackson directed trilogy stands as the best of them all and garnered a record 11 Oscar wins.

Honorable Mentions: Up, Finding Nemo, Gladiator, Into the Wild, Spirited Away, Mystic River, Letters From Iwo Jima, Inglorious Bastards, City of God, Children of Men, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

20 Films to Watch Come Awards Season

With only a few more weeks of Summer Blockbuster Season left, it’s time to look ahead to my favorite time of the year: awards season at the movies. Disregarding the Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, a majority of the higher quality film festivals tend to run during September through to November. The Venice Film Festival kicks us off on September 2nd, and with the beginning of the festival, we will start to see the release of the films that will be in contention for all the big awards, including the Oscars. Here’s a list of the films I am most excited to see that may be in contention for awards:

Black Mass: Despite Johnny Depp having some poor outings recently, most notably in Mortdecai, this film looks like it could be a turn around that may see the actor reach the heights he achieved when he received an acting nomination for Sweeney Todd. With the director of Crazy Heart, which won Jeff Bridges best actor, and a supporting cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, and Siena Miller, this gangster film has all the ingredients to be a hit.

Bridge of Spies: Well, it’s Steven Spielberg as the director, Tom Hanks is the main actor, and it’s set during the Cold War. What more could you do to garner pre-Oscar attention? This will be Spielberg’s first film since the spectacular Lincoln, and it’s hard to see this Cold War spy drama going bad.

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Carol: After receiving high praise from its premier at the Cannes Film Festival, where Rooney Mara won the best actress award, this Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara led period drama about two lesbians is sure to see some nominations.

Creed: Fruitvale Station was one of my favorite films of 2013, and in Creed we see the same director/actor combination of Ryan Coogler and the up and coming Michael B. Jordan working together on this Rocky spinoff that has me excited to see the two working together again.

The Danish Girl: Eddie Redmayne was phenomenal in his Oscar winning role of Stephen Hawking last year, and this role seems to be another platform for him to showcase his talents. This film is about the first person to undergo a male to female sex change. With the director of the King’s Speech (best picture for 2010) and Les Miserables at the helm, this film could see Redmayne repeat his best actor win.

Everest: Set to be the Opening Film of the Venice Film Festival (previously opened up by Birdman and Gravity the past two years), this survival thriller stars a strong cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Kiera Knightly, and Emma Watson.

The Hateful Eight: The new film from Tarantino is another Western, just like his previous outing, that will hopefully follow Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained in the pattern of being nominated for the Best Original Screenplay award at the Oscars. Also, when has Tarantino ever faltered from his mantle?

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In the Heart of the Sea: Originally scheduled to be released in March but moved to the heart of awards season serves as a good omen for this Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) directed epic about the story that began the myth of Moby Dick.

Joy: David O. Russel has seen great success with Jennifer Lawrence in his recent films (Silver Lining’s Playbook, American Hustle), and hopes to continue that success as he hands Lawrence the lead role in his new film about a single mom who becomes a prominent businesswoman.

Legend: Tom Hardy (one of my favorite actors currently) stars as both Ronald and Reginald Kray, two twin gangsters who ruled London during the 1950s and 60s. This movie, scripted by the writer of L.A. Confidential, sets the stage for Tom Hardy to mount a vicious attack to prevent DiCaprio from winning his first acting Oscar in The Revenant (mentioned below).

Macbeth: The next in a long line of modern (in setting or style) adaptions of Shakespeare plays sees Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender lead this dark and dramatic adaptation of the great play. Praise from the Cannes film festival along with a dark, brooding trailer means this film will stay on my radar over the coming months.

The Martian: Matt Damon is an astronaut stranded and struggling to stay alive on Mars while a team comprised of Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Jeff Daniels, and Kristen Wiig work to bring him back. Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) takes up the director’s mantle for a film that has as much promise as any of them.

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The Program: Biopic is also a strong genre to work with when trying to gain Oscar recognition, especially when it is about someone as controversial as Lance Armstrong. Add in a director who gave Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln, There Will Be Blood) his first big role as well as helped Helen Mirren to an Oscar win for The Queen and Judi Dench a nomination for Philomena, and it becomes reasonable to believe that this could be a breakthrough role for Ben Foster (Lone Survivor).

The Revenant: The movie I am most excited to see has DiCaprio taking another shot at winning that elusive Oscar statue under the strong direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who just so happened to director last year’s Best Picture winner: Birdman. The story of a man out for revenge after being left for dead following a bear attack could finally be the stage for Leo to win the Oscar he has so longingly deserved.

Snowden: An Oliver Stone (Platoon) led film about a man who went from being in the army, to the CIA, to being one of the most wanted men in the world. With actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story, Star Trek) and Tom Wilkinson leading the way, this film could be a potential return to glorious form for Oliver Stone.

Son of Saul: The runner-up at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is almost guaranteed to be nominated for the Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars. It is a unique Holocaust film about a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz who is in charge of the disposal of gas chamber victims. This one will be a tough film to watch for most.
Spotlight: Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams, and newly revived Michael Keaton (Birdman) look to set director Tom McCarthy back on the right path after his miss, The Cobbler. The movie revolves around the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist team that uncovered the child molestation scandal in their local archdiocese. Could this be similar to All the President’s Men? One can only hope so.

Steve Jobs: While the Ashton Kutcher film about the same man was a massive flop, this film looks to be in much better hands as Danny Boyle (127 hours, Slumdog Millionaire) directs and Michael Fassbender plays the titular character. A movie that will apparently focus on a shorter time period than the other Steve Jobs film, this could also allow Fassbender to swipe away an Oscar from poor Leo.

Suffragette: Three of the most powerful female actors today in Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, and Carey Mulligan take to the big screen about this film regarding the Women’s Social and Political Union that is set to open the London Film Festival.

The Walk: Acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) leads Joseph Gordon Levitt as the two tell the story of the man who attempted to walk between the Twin Towers on a wire. This movie will certainly try to replicate the accolades garnered by the documentary about the same subject (Man on Wire).

Bonus Film – Spectre: While it may not be a film that will be in contention for any awards, this is still my second most anticipated film (behind The Revenant) for 2015. I just can’t get enough of James Bond at this moment in time. P.S. A new trailer for this was released a couple days ago

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Top Movies of the 1990s

The 1990s are the second best decade for cinema in my opinion (closely following the 1970s).  In this decade, we see huge advances in special effects, the introduction of Tarantino, and Steven Spielberg take command of the world of cinema.

10.  Pulp Fiction: Slightly ruined for me by the unnecessarily violent and pointless Bruce Willis storyline, this Tarantino classic is still perfect for all other parts of the film with it’s fantastic dialogue, brilliant pop culture references, and inventive interwoven story lines.

9.  Terminator 2: Arguably even better than the original, this brilliantly scripted action film proves that action films can in fact have an intelligent storyline and brilliant special effects at the same time. It’s up there with Aliens and Toy Story 2 as the best sequels ever created.

8.  The Lion King: An emotional roller coaster and a must-see for all children of the 90s generation,  this brilliant animation film, along with its impeccable soundtrack, can stand up and go toe to toe with the classic Disney giants, and in some ways, win.

7.  American Beauty: A highpoint for the late 90’s and strong platform for Kevin Spacey to shine, this darkly humored film metaphorically discusses the struggles of going through a mid-life crisis in a mature and, yes, beautiful way.

6.  Toy Story: The film that opened up the entire world of computer animation films and placed Pixar on the map with a bang, Toy Story remains the best animated film I’ve ever seen due to it’s lovable characters, flawless animation, and ever-brilliant script.

5.  Goodfellas: Martin Scorsese’s equivalent of Godfather is the only mafia drama we have seen come close to matching Coppola’s classics. Overflowing with style and brilliant acting, this movie is arguably the best in a long line of Scorsese classics.

4.  The Shawshank Redemption: A movie that does everything perfectly and changed the game for prison films by combining realistic prison interactions with a unique depiction of hope and uplifting emotion.

3.  Silence of the Lambs: The first horror film to win best picture and garner the big five awards at the Oscars, Silence of the Lambs balances its two story lines of the hunt for Buffalo Bill and the interactions between Starling and Lector perfectly. What drives this film to new heights, however, is the all-time creepiest performance by Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lector.

2.  Saving Private Ryan: One of the best war films, Saving Private Ryan asks tough moral questions while simultaneously praising the courage and determination of all WWII veterans. A movie (along with Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park) that allowed Spielberg to dominate the decade.

1.  Schindler’s List: An uncompromising look at the harsh realities of the Holocaust combined with the simple story of the hope and salvation, Schindler’s List is Spielberg’s crowning achievement and required viewing for all adults.

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Honorable Mentions:  Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Fight Club, Fargo, Good Will Hunting, Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowksi, L.A. Confidential, Braveheart, La Vita é Bella

Top Movies of the 1980s

Following the momentous time period that the 1970s was for cinema, the 1980s did its best to try and produce its own batch of influential films.  The movies may not be as grand as those of the 70s, but they are still enjoyable and historic nonetheless.

10.  Ghostbusters: Fantastic chemistry from the impeccably casted group of actors and hysterical writing make Ghostbusters brilliant for repeated-comedy viewing.

9.  E. T. The Extra Terrestrial: One of the most magical family films ever crafted, adding even more diversity and range to the already expansive repertoire of Steven Spielberg.

8.  Die Hard: What more do you want than bare-footed Bruce Willis going up against a German Allan Rickman? Brilliant action and memorable scenes makes this flick an action film with an exclamation mark.

7.  Gandhi- Backed by the electrifying performance of Ben Kingsley as the titular character, Gandhi serves as a film built for personal reflection that is so grand we probably won’t see anything like it created for quite some time.

6.  The Breakfast Club: The teen classic that defines teen classics and would ultimately go on to influence other films such as Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Breakfast Club is a great testament to youth, rebellion, and the uniqueness of the individual going through high school.

5.  The Shining: While it differs in many aspects from the source material, Stanley Kubrick successfully creates a multi-dimensional tale of madness and despair with one of the greatest horrors at its core: being hunted by a member of your family.

4.  Aliens: James Cameron is one of the only directors that could take Alien and improve on it in so many ways, including special effects and acting strength. While just as suspenseful as the original, more entertaining characters and action sequences ensure this film is one of the best sequels ever created.

3.  Raiders of the Lost Ark: While the rest of the Indiana Jones films (except for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) are all good, Raiders stands as the movie that defines the trilogy and gave us one of the most iconic action adventure characters.

2.  Raging Bull: One of Scorsese’s classics and containing one of the most memorable opening shots, Raging Bull takes the concept of boxing and uses it to paint a portrait of struggling American life in the mid century, revolving around themes of domestic abuse and the pursuit of success.

1.  Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back: Darker, bolder, and more entertaining than the original Star Wars, the second installment acts as “The Dark Knight” to the original’s “Batman Begins”.

Honorable Mentions: Blade Runner, Star Wars VI, Back to the Future, Ferri’s Bueller’s day off, The Terminator, The Princess Bride, The Karate Kid

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Top Movies of the 1970’s

The 1970’s brought us some of the most influential films in cinema history, saw Francis Ford Coppola at his best, and had clear influences from the Vietnam War.  With powerhouses such as the Godfather parts 1 and 2, how do the finest films of the decade stand up against each other?

10.  Chinatown- The classic film noir that would go on to influence great films such as L.A. Confidential, Chinatown sees Jack Nicholson play a P.I. that gets in way over his head and stubbles entertainingly into a web of lies of deceit.

9.  Taxi Driver- The highlight from De Niro/Scorsese partnership depicting the life of the NY underground from the perspective of an ex-Vietnam war veteran turned cab driver. The depth in the portrayal of the chronically lonely man in a time filled with hardship is nearly unparalleled cinema.

8.  Annie Hall- Woody Allen broke down the barrier between audience and actor by having his character talk directly to the camera in this classic romance film that is often regarded as his finest work with solid acting, a great comedic script, and a best picture Oscar to top it all off.

7.  Jaws- This Spielberg classic remains one of the greats for its ability to be scary while staying away from classic horror clichés and providing us with depth-filled characters. Also, that soundtrack is iconic.

6.  Alien- The supreme suspense and an incredibly iconic moment with the alien popping out of the man’s chest are just two of things that make this movie stand out from the rest of the sci-fi/horror group. A platform for Sigourney Weaver as an actress to showcase her true talent, and the film that put Ridley Scott on the map.

5.  The Deer Hunter- Another Roman Polanski classic that uncompromisingly removes the glorified veil that cinema had placed on war by analyzing the connection between three friends pre, during, and post Vietnam war, with Russian roulette being one film’s primary foundations.

4.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- A movie filled with great performances, primarily from Nicholson, that uses a bleak and dark environment to throw in dashes of humorous banter in an altogether engrossing character study.

3.  A Clockwork Orange- Stanley Kubrick at his most bizarre best in this film that is not only visually alluring and rich in a frenzied sort of way, but also provides as a interesting testament to the themes of freedom, youth, and anarchy.

2.  The Godfather (parts I and II)- Regarded by many as the best film of all time, the Godfather and its sequel both serve as brilliant testaments to the pursuit of the American dream while vividly recreating the engrossing world of mafia and setting new benchmarks for American cinema as a whole.

1.  Apocalypse Now- Haunting, chaotic, insane, and perfect in every aspect, Apocalypse Now takes cinema to new levels by using an influential time in American history to discuss various themes of insanity and desperation in uniquely visional manner.

Honorable Mentions: The Exorcist, French Connection, Star Wars: A New Hope, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Sting, Dirty Harry, All The President’s Men, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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Top 10 Movies of the 1960’s

While I love writing reviews of films, I also enjoy making lists.  It gives me something to do in my free time in between watching new films.  I have decided that for my first set of lists, I am going to pick my top 10 favorite films for each decade starting from the 1960s and moving up until this current decade.  While some of my favorite films are from the 1940s and 1950s, I feel that I haven’t seen enough films from these decades to make a justifiable list just yet.  For my lists I will be taking into account plot, acting, directing, script, cinematography, influence, critical acclaim, and my own person feelings about the films.  So, without further adieu, here are my ten favorite films from the 1960s.

10.  The Sound of Music- A film that I think is one of the most overrated films in all of cinema history (alongside Gone With the Wind); however, it is impossible to deny this film’s ever-lasting longevity, brilliant art direction, and classic narrative.

9.  The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly- The best film in the Man with No Name Trilogy sees classic Clint Eastwood playing one of his most iconic roles that still to this day sets the standard for all spaghetti westerns (sorry Django).

8.  La Dolce Vita- My favorite film to come out of Italy (alongside the Bicycle Thieves), this high-flying, ironic look at life in Rome during the 1950s and 60s serves as a constant reminder and source of contemplation on what the real meaning of living “the good life” is.

7.  Lawrence of Arabia- A film, while four hours long, manages to keep the audience engaged at all times with brilliant acting, cinematography, and strong direction in this granddaddy of all modern epics.

6.  Bonnie and Clyde- A film whose influence is still seen today, Bonnie & Clyde is one of the golden gems from the beginning of the era of New Age cinema, and a movie that actually has an appreciation for the act of killing that most modern action films seem to lack.

5.  Goldfinger- Sean Connery’s best film as the iconic 007 agent James Bond, Goldfinger set the standard for the modern day blockbuster by combining smart storytelling with brilliant action sequences and memorable characters.  It serves as the ultimate influence to rest of the James Bond saga and many other spy films.

4.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid- A brilliant film spearheaded by the uncompromising chemistry of Redford and Newman, this buddy outlaw film epitomized the “bromance” and serves as the most entertaining movie to watch of this decade.

3.  To Kill A Mockingbird- Based off the classic novel of the same name, To Kill A Mockingbird does justice by the source material and tackles difficult themes, including racism, in this brilliant movie adaptation, led by a superb lead role by Gregory Peck.

2.  2001: A Space Odyssey- While confusing in terms of its message and potentially dull for the first half an hour for some people, Kubrick’s space epic discusses dynamic themes of evolution all the while combining brilliant tension and special effects into a film that actually achieves everything Interstellar hoped to.

1.  Psycho- This Hitchcockian classic set the bar for what horror movies could be in the 1960’s, and gave us one of the most iconic scenes of all time that still have some nervous about taking a shower. A classic twist for a classic film that still has a chill factor by today’s horror standards.  It’s the gold standard in a long list of great films for one of the most influential and iconic directors of all time.

Honorable Mentions include: The Graduate, My Fair Lady, Dr. Strangelove, Midnight Cowboy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 8 ½, Dr. No, Cool Hand Luke, Night of the Living Dead, and The Birds

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In the next few days I will post my list for best movies of the 1970s.