Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category
Welcome everyone to Movie-Thoughts’ first annual Turn of the Year Awards! While everyone else is making Top 10 lists for the upcoming awards season, we thought it would be more worthwhile to talk about what we feel are the most notable movies of the past year, good or bad. Read about our Best and Worst moviegoing experiences, our biggest surprises and disappointments, the most well-crafted movies, and the overall Best movies of the year. Then, after you’re done reading what we think, tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Let me preface this by saying that the moments I often find scariest are those that are more unnerving than shocking. It’s not the moment when a masked murderer pops out from behind a door that scares me, but rather the moments that are grounded in reality and play on natural human paranoia that make me pause before I turn off the lights to go to sleep.
I’m going to start old school and pick a moment from this infamous 1932 Tod Browning film, which is tough because I find the movie seriously disturbing. I first watched it a few months ago and I was utterly horrified during the scene in which the “freaks” take their revenge. After discovering that the aloof trapeze artist Cleopatra has only married fellow “freak” Hans for his money and intends to kill him, they decide to punish her and her secret lover/accomplice. As the lover tries to crawl away from his crashed wagon in the stormy night, the “freaks” stalk toward him with weapons in hand and menacing expressions on their faces. No music plays over the scene, the only sound is the rain and the slow movements of the “freaks” as they circle their prey. Browning films each “freak” in an extended take that shows them slowly moving toward the camera. It’s a technique that ensures that even the audience feels it can’t escape the oncoming violence. However, the scariest shot for me is the moment we see one of the “pinhead” characters crawling through the mud with knife in hand. Throughout the rest of the film, the “pinheads”—so named because a genetic defect called microcephaly has caused a narrowing of their skulls—are characterized as childlike and loving. So to suddenly see that innocence turned to silent, vindictive rage is incredibly unnerving and it expresses just how committed the “freaks” are to protecting their own.
The impetus for this list came from simply re-watching Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film Casino, during which time I could not help but think of the number of movies which prominently feature the goings on of casinos – or at least the alleged goings on. And being that I didn’t quite agree with the listing of the Best Casino Movies at CasinoTop10, I decided to tackle the challenge of ranking them myself. Interestingly enough, though, casino movies aren’t even considered a subgenre, as few if any thematic or aesthetic similarities can be found amongst the movies which significantly feature a casino setting. Not to be discouraged, however, I took advantage of this leeway and simply considered any film which takes place in a casino or casino-like locale either for a substantial portion of the running time or during a particularly important or memorable scene. And now that we’re armed with these criteria let us get on with the rankings, which may contain a few surprises.
5. Casino Royale (2006)
It seems almost too fitting that a James Bond movie be on this list considering how many times we’ve seen 007 sitting sharply dressed in a tuxedo at a green-felted table over the decades, and the question that immediately comes to mind is what separates Casino Royale from the lot. The answer is that, more than any other Bond flick, it made card games both a significant part of the plot and exceedingly exciting. Not only did James win his Aston Martin in a poker game, but he bested the film’s main villain by the same means. The scenes where the dapper double-o goes toe to toe with Le Chiffre demonstrate the full extent of the secret agent’s wit and savvy, successfully substantiating the notion that he is not just a physical force to be reckoned with but a cerebral one as well. No doubt, it’s as civilized a showdown as you’re likely to find in an action movie from any era, and that it’s as exciting as the film’s car chases speaks volumes about the writing quality.
With the recent release of the super patriotic Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which was no doubt strategically distributed just in time for the 4th of July holiday, we thought it would be a good idea to try and figure out which American movie is the most patriotic. Such a question naturally leads into some healthy debating, and the more we thought about it the more difficult we found it to pinpoint which single film is more ardently loyal and proudly American than all the rest. However, with some careful thought we were able to compile the Top 5 most patriotic movies ever.
Before we list the privileged few we must first set up some conditions. For a movie to qualify for our list it had to meet three requirements: it had to portray the United States as a uniform protagonist (if only symbolically) and could not just be a story about one single American, the U.S. had to have been in opposition to some thing or other country in some way (not necessarily in terms of war, but it’s admittedly a running theme), and it had to at some point visually glorify a national symbol (with the most common example being the American flag). With these parameters now set let us get right to it! Read the rest of this entry »
With Iron Man 2 opening this weekend, marking the biggest comic book movie since 2008′s The Dark Knight, we thought it would be appropriate to consider what the best castings have been since the genre began. There have been a lot of cases where the actor/actress fit the role like a glove. Some choices seemed obvious at the time, while others worked out unexpectedly well. A perfect example is Michael Keaton as the caped crusader in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, a casting which few supported before the film’s release but which many now consider the best casting of the character to date. But not even that sweet surprise made the Movie-Thoughts Top 5 Best Comic Book Castings. See which actors we thought fit their comic book characters best, and then send us your Top 5! Later we’ll tally the totals and see how close we came to the fan consensus.
And the Top 5 are…
5. Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark/Iron Man
Downey Jr. wasn’t so much a casting of a super hero as a casting of a super ego, but nevertheless his quick-witted line delivery and narcissistic on-screen persona transfer perfectly to a character we’re meant to believe is bizarrely brilliant and grossly spoiled (at least before his capture). Once the narcissism was exchanged for just an inordinate amount of pride and confidence, the heroic nature of the character was able to shine through and RDJ flowed from the former to the latter flawlessly.
4. Christopher Reeve – Clark Kent/Superman
As good as Brandon Routh was as his replacement in 2006′s Superman Returns, Christopher Reeve has been immortalized in the iconic role of the Man of Steel for good reason. Not only was he able to look the part, which is harder to achieve than you might think, but he was able to expertly play both the awkwardness of Clark Kent and the self assuredness of his alter ego. Those who know Superman know that that alter ego is not a psychological rock, and when it came time to display the requisite humility and vulnerability the character sometimes shows he was able to pull it off without missing a beat. Mr. Reeve helped prove to us that even the impenetrable are not invulnerable.
3. Patrick Stewart – Professor Xavier
Not only is Mr. Stewart perhaps the best known bald actor thanks to his role as Star Trek‘s Capt. Jean-Luke Picard, which helps match the look of the character, but all else about him as an actor fit this role perfectly. The low but friendly timber of his voice, the air of wisdom and sincerity, and the hyper-disciplined demeanor all amalgamated to Stewart actually being Professor Xavier. The role called for someone who could convince us that he is the ultimate confidant who always knew what’s best, and he pulled it off with flying colors. Imagining anyone fitting this role better seems impossible.
2. TIE: Jack Nicholson/ Heath Ledger – The Joker
Admittedly, we’re cheating with this one, but we just could not decide who fit the role better based on the versions of the character that they played. Nicholson as The Joker in 1989′s Batman fits perfectly because the character as it was envisioned for the film drew inspiration from earlier Batman comics, when the character was more goofy and aloof. During this period the villain took a primarily sociopathic persona but was not nearly the intellectual foe that he later became. Ledger’s Joker, as it was written, was clearly based on the more sinister version displayed in the comic series decades after the earlier version. During this era, which still continues, the character proves to be frightfully brilliant in his scheming to battle Batman and Gotham City, manipulating various peripheral characters to exact his will. Nicholson’s devilish grin and menacing stare made him look the part to a “T”, and his maniacal laugh effectively made him The Joker. Ledger’s actual look relied more on makeup, but his healthier physique allowed him to be a more competent combatant with Batman in physical terms and not just psychological. Much of his success with the character was due to his outstanding performance, but that everything about him fell exactly in line with the version he was portraying makes this a one in a million cast.
1. Hugh Jackman – Logan/Wolverine
The character of Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men movies, we would claim, is based from the version portrayed in the comics of his own series. For unlike his portrayal in the series that involves the entire X-Men crew, there he has considerably more depth and foundation (as one would expect). Jackman’s physical stature and hair styling made him believable from a purely aesthetic standpoint, but his ability to range from all requisite mindsets (tenacious, tortured, paternal, romantic, etc.) allowed him to convey all aspects of the character as needed. The arch of the character in the films is thanks in large part to the writing, but we here find it downright unfeasible that anyone possesses the mix of physical likeness and acting skill to pull off the role of Wolverine better than Hugh Jackman.
We don’t doubt that our Top 5 list is controversial, and we’re hardly married to it, but we feel it certainly captures five of the best castings of any comic book character yet seen on the silver screen. Based on the submissions you all send in to us we’ll likely feel inclined to make a revision or two, but until then we stand by what you see. When you narrow down your own Top 5 lists, try to keep in mind that it’s not about ranking your favorite movie/comic characters but the quality of the casting of those characters and how the actor/actress fits so well in their respective roles.
Here is a list of roles that we hated to leave out but had to (in no particular order): Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus, Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Willem Dafoe as The Green Goblin, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.
Perhaps some of these roles will make your list. We’re interested to see, so let us know!
With Oscar season now officially upon us, it is time to take a look back and see which films have made Movie-Thoughtsâ€™ Top 10 of the year. Granted weâ€™ve only been around since last August, so our list isnâ€™t as well crafted as it might be if we were around for a whole year. However, such lists are just meant to be fun anyways, right? So letâ€™s get to it.
Our list is based solely on how writers Clifford Bugle and Marisa Carpico rated all the movies they reviewed on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0. There were lots of ties, but they were sorted out according to the suggestions of the writers.
- Avatar -Â 9.0
- A Single Man -Â 9.0
- Inglourious Basterds -Â 8.5
- An Education -Â 8.5
- The Hurt Locker -Â 8.5
- District 9 -Â 8.5
- 500 Days of Summer -Â 8.5
- The Book of Eli -Â 8.5
- Precious -Â 8.0
- The Merry Gentleman -Â 8.0
How does our list compare with yours? Weâ€™re excited to know, so send us your list of the Top 10 movies of the year via our Contact page or this postâ€™s comments section.