Monday, December 2, 2013

Paul Walker Retrospective

So I’ve decided that when an actor, actress or filmmaker dies whose work meant something to me dies I’d like to take a few minutes to look back on his or her career.  Here are a few thoughts on my little sister’s first crush: Paul Walker.

The first things anyone would have to notice about Paul Walker are his All American good looks: the striking blue eyes, strong jawline and fit physique.  Filmmakers caught on quickly casting Walker as, basically, an attractive and blandly likable guy in Pleasantville and Varsity Blues.  Quickly those good looks were given a slightly sinister, more manipulative turn in She’s All That and The Skulls.  It’s faint praise to say Walker was the best part of the execrable The Skulls, but it’s also true.  He’s a far more magnetic screen presence than star Joshua Jackson and holds his own with solid character actors like Craig T. Nelson.

The Skulls’ director Rob Cohen evidently agreed because when Universal gave him the keys to a new car racing thriller, Cohen selected Paul Walker as his leading man.  Walker reportedly beat out Christian Bale for the role (Bale went on to star in the post-apocalyptic dragon thriller Reign of Fire before breaking out as a ‘serious actor’ with The Machinist).  Despite stealing a title from a long forgotten Roger Corman schlockfest that literally made audiences laugh at the movie’s preview, The Fast and the Furious was an immediate hit.  Marketed heavily to urban and minority audiences, Fast was, at the time, the most financially successful movie ever about cars, out-grossing its budget on opening weekend.  There’s something both magically dumb and lovable about the first Fast.  Maybe it’s the fact that the entire cast treats lines like “Ask any racer, any real racer.  It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile.  Winning’s winning.” or “I owe you a ten second car…” as though they were penned by Shakespeare, maybe it’s the fact that it shone a light on an interesting subculture element (car tuning and street racing), maybe it’s that both Walker and Diesil are believable action heroes or maybe it’s the fact that the CGI-free action scenes were damn exciting, but The Fast and the Furious achieves its (admittedly modest) goals about as well as any movie can.  While Vin Diesil was the break-out star of The Fast and the Furious, Paul Walker was the film’s solid, relatable emotional core.

In the wake of Fast’s success, Walker was hot-shotted to movie stardom with some truly awful results.  After Diesil left the Fast series, Walker was the lead in the awful Fast sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious.  The film is a muddled mess of CGI nonsense.  Most disappointingly, new director John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood, Shaft) completely fails to grasp the first film’s core value: outsiders coming together to form a sort of off-kilter family.  Instead, Tyrese and Ludacris chew the scenery with asinine catch phrases and Fast’s Jordana Brewster is thrown aside for Eva Mendes’ new sexpot love interest.  Despite deservedly awful reviews, 2 Fast had a huge opening weekend (though a lower overall gross than the first Fast signifying audience displeasure) and Walker’s ‘star turns’ continued.  His next two films, Timeline and Into the Blue, were awful movies savaged by critics and forgotten at the box office.  These failures seemed to lead Walker to make a real change in the roles he selected.

In 2006, Walker moved on from the seemingly declining Fast series and took three roles radically different from any audiences had seen from him before: Running Scared, Eight Below and Flags of Our Fathers.  Running Scared is, to most observers, Walker’s best performance as a low level mob thug trying to recover a missing handgun through a bizarre, dark and hyperreal real world fairy tale.  It’s a gritty and magnetic performance in a strange little movie.  Eight Below sees Walker as the lead in an old-fashioned Disney animal adventure story about eight sled dogs trapped for the winter in Antarctica.  Walker shows his trademark lovable charm, but also a good deal of range, in wrangling to get support to get his dogs in Antarctica.  Despite the hokey trailers and Disney family production goals, the film is rather touching and far better than the material would suggest.  Perhaps most interesting is Walker’s role in Flags of Our Fathers.  Walker tried out for the film like any working actor and was offered a very small role with a very small paycheck.  Much to Warner Bros’ surprise, Walker happily accepted a bit part in a movie far more ‘important’ than his usual oeuvre.  Walker followed with two artistically interesting, but ultimately unsuccessful, indie dramas: The Death and Life of Bobby Z and The Lazarus Project.

Over the last few years, Walker has been tied up with the immensely likable Fast sequels.  The success of Fast’s resurrection is a direct result of audience’s fond memories of the first film.  Fast & Furious’ tagline was ‘New Model, Original Parts’ in reference to all the returning stars.  The series has grown in both budget and scope while adding numerous stars to the mix, but throughout six movies Walker and Diesil have been the series’ heart and soul.  Walker had continued to mix up his non-Fast films as well including a reunion with Running Scared director Wayne Kramer for Pawn Shop Chronicles and the upcoming well-received Katrina movie, Hours, about a man trying to take care of his infant daughter in the storm’s aftermath.


It is a shame as a film fan to lose Paul Walker as he seems to be finding a real comfort level in how to maximize his talent.  As a handsome, credible man of action, Walker could’ve have had a great opportunity to age into a sort of modern day Steve McQueen.  While his talent and range have limits, it’s very difficult to find a leading man that most filmgoers will happily buy as a man of action.  Squint and it’s not hard to see a still handsome 63 year old Paul Walker eeking out a Best Actor nomination for his role as a disillusioned cop finding purpose in one last case.  By literally ever single account, Paul Walker was a great guy in real life.  He died after spending his Fast Seven holiday shooting hiatus at a charity event for typhoon victims.  What I hadn’t realized is that Walker was a hands-on philanthropist personally traveling around the world to help where tragedy struck including relief trips to Chile and Haiti in the wake of earthquakes; he was also an avid supporter of marine biological education and science.  RIP.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2012 Movies

2012 Movies:

21 Jump Street: 8/10
About Cherry: 3/10
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: 4/10
Act of Valor: 3/10
Amazing Spider-Man, The: 9/10
American Reunion: 6/10
Anna Karenina: 8/10
Arbitrage: 7/10
Argo: 10/10
Avengers, The: 10/10
Bachelorette: 7/10
Ballplayer [Pelotero]: 8/10
Battleship: 4/10
Beasts of the Southern Wild: 8/10
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The: 6/10
Big Miracle: 5/10
Bourne Legacy, The: 8/10
Brave: 7/10
Cabin in the Woods, The: 8/10
Campaign, The: 7/10
Chernobyl Diaries: 2/10
Chronicle: 8/10
Cloud Atlas: 9/10
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope: 5/10
Contraband: 5/10
Coriolanus: 8/10
Dark Knight Rises, The: 9/10
Dark Shadows: 3/10
Dark Tide: 3/10
Deep Blue Sea, The: 7/10
Devil Inside, The: 1/10
Dictator, The: 6/10
Django Unchained: 9/10
Dredd: 8/10
Expendables 2, The: 7/10
Five-Year Engagement, The: 4/10
Flight: 7/10
Frankenweenie: 7/10
Friends with Kids: 5/10
Game Change: 8/10
Get the Gringo: 7/10
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: 4/10
Gone: 3/10
Goon: 7/10
Grey, The: 8/10
Haywire: 7/10
Headhunters [Hodejegerne]: 8/10
Hobbit, The: An Unexpected Journey: 8/10
Hope Springs: 6/10
Hunger Games, The: 8/10
Hunter, The: 8/10
Hysteria: 4/10
Ice Age: Continental Drift: 4/10
Impossible, The: 9/10
Indie Game: The Movie: 7/10
Intouchables, The: 9/10
Jack Reacher: 7/10
Jeff, Who Lives at Home: 3/10
John Carter: 7/10
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: 5/10
Killer Joe: 8/10
Killing Them Softly: 5/10
Lawless: 8/10
Les Miserables: 7/10
Life of Pi: 9/10
Lincoln: 10/10
Lockout: 6/10
Looper: 8/10
Magic Mike: 8/10
Man on a Ledge: 6/10
Man with the Iron Fists, The: 3/10
Master, The: 9/10
Men in Black 3: 7/10
Mirror Mirror: 3/10
Moonrise Kingdom: 8/10
Paranorman: 9/10
People Like Us: 4/10
Perfect Sense: 6/10
Perks of Being a Wallflower, The: 9/10
Piranha 3DD: 3/10
Pirates, The: A Band of Misfits: 7/10
Pitch Perfect: 8/10
Premium Rush: 7/10
Project X: 4/10
Prometheus: 7/10
Promised Land: 7/10
Raid, The: Redemption [Serbuan maut]: 8/10
Red Dawn: 4/10
Red Tails: 5/10
Resident Evil: Retribution: 5/10
Rock of Ages: 4/10
Rust and Bone [De rouille et d'os]: 8/10
Safe: 5/10
Safe House: 7/10
Safety Not Guaranteed: 7/10
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: 7/10
Savages: 7/10
Secret World of Arrietty, The [Kari-gurashi no Arietti]: 8/10
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: 5/10
Sessions, The: 6/10
Seven Psychopaths: 6/10
Silent Hill: Revelatiom: 4/10
Silver Linings Playbook: 9/10
Skyfall: 10/10
Smashed: 7/10
Snow White and the Huntsman: 7/10
Step Up Revolution: 4/10
Take This Waltz: 7/10
Taken 2: 4/10
Ted: 7/10
This Is 40: 8/10
This Means War: 5/10
To Rome with Love: 3/10
Total Recall: 5/10
Trouble with the Curve: 4/10
Twilight Sage, The: Breaking Dawn: Part Two: 5/10
Underworld: Awakening: 4/10
Vow, The: 5/10
Wanderlust: 5/10
Watch, The: 6/10
Woman in Black, The: 6/10
Words, The: 4/10
Wrath of the Titans: 4/10
Wreck-It Ralph: 7/10
Your Sister's Sister: 8/10
Zero Dark Thirty: 10/10

2012 Short Films:

Adam and Dog: 7/10
Fresh Guacamole: 4/10
Head Over Heels: 8/10
La Luna: 7/10
Paperman: 10/10

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My 2013 Academy Award Nominations

If I were to select the Academy Award nominees alone, here's what today's nominees would have looked like:

Best Picture
- Argo
- The Avengers
- The Dark Knight Rises
- The Impossible
- Life of Pi
- Lincoln
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Skyfall
- Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
- Dane DeHaan, Chronicle
- Martin Freeman, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- Liam Neeson, The Grey
- Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Best Actress
- Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
- Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
- Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
- Naomi Watts, The Impossible
- Michelle Williams, Take This Waltz

Best Supporting Actor
- Javier Bardem, Skyfall
- Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
- Michael Fassbender, Prometheus
- Ewan McGregor, The Impossible
- Michael Pena, End of Watch

Best Supporting Actress
- Judi Dench, Skyfall
- Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
- Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
- Frances McDormand, Promised Land
- Kelly Reilly, Flight

Best Director
- Ben Affleck, Argo
- Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
- Ang Lee, Life of Pi
- Sam Mendes, Skyfall
- Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

Best Animated Film
- Brave
- ParaNorman
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits
- The Secret World of Arrietty
- Wreck-It Ralph

Best Foreign Language Film
- Headhunters (Norway)
- The Raid: Redemption (Indonesia)
- Rust and Bone (France)

Best Original Screenplay
- Django Unchained
- The Impossible
- The Master
- Skyfall
- Zero Dark Thirty

Best Adapted Screenplay
- Argo
- The Avengers
- Life of Pi
- Lincoln
- Silver Linings Playbook

Best Cinematography
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Impossible
- Lawless
- Life of Pi
- Skyfall

Best Production Design
- Cloud Atlas
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- Life of Pi
- Snow White and the Huntsman
- The Woman in Black

Best Visual Effects
- Cloud Atlas
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Impossible
- Life of Pi
- Prometheus

Best Editing
- Argo
- The Avengers
- Looper
- Skyfall
- Zero Dark Thirty

Best Original Score
- Cloud Atlas
- The Dark Knight Rises
- The Impossible
- Life of Pi
- Lincoln

Best Original Song
- “Abraham’s Daugher” by Arcade Fire (The Hunger Games)
- “Learn Me Right” by Birdy feat. Mumford and Sons (Brave)
- “Live to Rise” by Soundgarden (The Avengers)
- “Skyfall” by Adele (Skyfall)
- “Song for the Lonely Mountain” by Neil Finn and Howard Shore (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

Best Sound Mixing
- Cloud Atlas
- The Impossible
- Les Miserables
- Magic Mike
- Skyfall

Best Sound Editing
- The Avengers
- The Impossible
- Life of Pi
- Prometheus
- Skyfall

Best Costume Design
- Cloud Atlas
- Django Unchained
- The Hunger Games
- Mirror Mirror
- Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- The Grey
- The Hunger Games
- Looper

Best Documentary
- Pelotero

Best Animated Short Film
- Paperman

Total Nominations
Skyfall: 10
The Impossible: 9
Life of Pi: 8
Zero Dark Thirty: 6
The Avengers: 5
Cloud Atlas: 5
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 5
Lincoln: 5
Argo: 4
The Dark Knight Rises: 3
The Hunger Games: 3
Prometheus: 3
Silver Livings Playbook: 3
Brave: 2
Django Unchained: 2
The Grey: 2
Les Miserables: 2
Looper: 2
The Master: 2
Rust and Bone: 2
Snow White and the Huntsman: 2
Chronicle: 1
End of Watch: 1
Flight: 1
Headhunters: 1
Lawless: 1
Magic Mike: 1
Mirror Mirror: 1
Paperman: 1
ParaNorman: 1
Pelotero: 1
The Pirates! Band of Misfits: 1
Promised Land: 1
The Raid: Redemption: 1
The Secret World of Arrietty: 1
Take This Walz: 1
The Woman in Black: 1
Wreck-It Ralph: 1

Relevant Unseen Movies
Amour, The Sessions, Seven Psychopaths, Anna Karenina, The Intouchables, Holy Motors, Frankenweenie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Hitchcock, Hyde Park on Hudson, This Is Not a Film, The Loneliest Planet, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Bernie, Oslo August 31st, The Imposter, every foreign language, documentary and short Academy Award nominee

Monday, June 11, 2012

2011 Movies

2011 Movies: 13 Assassins [Jûsan-nin no shikaku]: 8/10 30 Minutes or Less: 50/50: 9/10 Abduction: 4/10 Adjustment Bureau, The: 8/10 Adventures of Tintin, The: 7/10 African Cats: 8/10 Albert Nobbs: 6/10 Anonymous: 4/10 Arthur: 5/10 Artist, The: 8/10 Attack the Block: 8/10 Bad Teacher: 6/10 Bang Bang Club, The: 4/10 Battle: Los Angeles: 7/10 Beaver, The: 5/10 Beginners: 8/10 Better Life, A: 7/10 Black Death: 7/10 Blitz: 4/10 Bridesmaids: 8/10 Captain America: The First Avenger: 9/10 Cars 2: 5/10 Cedar Rapids: 6/10 Change-Up, The: 5/10 Colombiana: 4/10 Conan the Barbarian: 4/10 Conspirator, The: 8/10 Contagion: 9/10 Coriolanus: 8/10 Cowboys & Aliens: 6/10 Crazy, Stupid, Love.: 7/10 Dangerous Method, A: 7/10 Darkest Hour, The: 3/10 Debt, The: 7/10 Derek Jeter 3K: 7/10 Descendants, The: 8/10 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: 3/10 Dilemma, The: 3/10 Drive: 10/10 Drive Angry 3D: 5/10 Eagle, The: 6/10 Everything Must Go: 6/10 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: 4/10 Fast Five: 8/10 Final Destination 5: 7/10 Friends with Benefits: 5/10 Fright Night: 7/10 Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The: 9/10 Greatest Movie Ever Sold, The: 5/10 Green Hornet, The: 5/10 Green Lantern: 4/10 Green Lantern: Emerald Knights: 3/10 Hall Pass: 5/10 Hangover Part II, The: 6/10 Hanna: 8/10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: 10/10 Help, The: 6/10 Horrible Bosses: 7/10 Hugo: 10/10 Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), The: 1/10 I Am Number Four: 4/10 Ides of March, The: 8/10 In Time: 6/10 Iron Lady, The: 4/10 J. Edgar: 5/10 Jackass 3.5: 3/10 Jane Eyre: 8/10 Just Go with It: 4/10 Kaboom: 5/10 Killer Elite: 6/10 Kung Fu Panda 2: 8/10 Last Night: 7/10 Life in a Day: 5/10 Like Crazy: 4/10 Limitless: 6/10 Lincoln Lawyer, The: 7/10 Martha Marcy May Marlene: 8/10 Mechanic, The: 8/10 Meek's Cutoff: 3/10 Melancholia: 8/10 Midnight in Paris: 8/10 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol: 9/10 Moneyball: 7/10 Muppets, The: 7/10 My Week with Marilyn: 8/10 New Year's Eve: 3/10 No Strings Attached: 6/10 One Day: 5/10 Other Woman, The: 6/10 Page One: Inside the New York Times: 7/10 Paul: 7/10 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: 4/10 Priest: 3/10 Puss in Boots: 6/10 Rango: 7/10 Real Steel: 8/10 Red Riding Hood: 2/10 Rio: 6/10 Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 8/10 Rite, The: 5/10 Roommate, The: 2/10 Rubber: 1/10 Sanctum: 3/10 Scream 4: 3/10 Season of the With: 4/10 Separation, A: 8/10 Shame: 9/10 Shelter: 2/10 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: 6/10 Skin I Live In, The [La piel que habito]: 8/10 Something Borrowed: 5/10 Soul Surfer: 3/10 Source Code: 8/10 Straw Dogs: 6/10 Sucker Punch: 3/10 Super: 7/10 Super 8: 8/10 Take Me Home Tonight: 4/10 Tekken: 3/10 That's What I Am: 4/10 Thing, The: 4/10 Thor: 8/10 Thor: Tales of Asgard: 6/10 Three Musketeers, The: 3/10 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: 10/10 Tower Heist: 6/10 Transformers: Dark of the Moon: 7/10 Tree of Life, The: 8/10 Twilight Saga, The: Breaking Dawn: Part 1: 4/10 Unknown: 5/10 Vanishing on 7th Street: 3/10 War Horse: 9/10 Warrior: 10/10 Water for Elephants: 8/10 We Bought a Zoo: 7/10 We Need to Talk About Kevin: 4/10 What's Your Number?: 6/10 Win Win: 8/10 Winnie the Pooh: 7/10 X-Men: First Class: 9/10 Young Adult: 8/10 Your Highness: 3/10 2011 Short Films: Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas: 4/10 Marvel One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer: 5/10 Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant: 6/10 Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation: 9/10 Toy Story Toons: Small Fry: 8/10 Top 25 of 2011: Honorable Mention: The Artist, Coriolanus, Win Win, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hanna, Melancholia, Beginners, Fast Five, Jane Eyre, Water for Elephants, The Conspirator, Source Code, African Cats, The Mechanic, Real Steel, Kung Fu Panda 2 25. Attack the Block 24. My Week with Marilyn 23. Thor 22. Midnight in Paris 21. Super 8 20. Bridesmaids 19. The Tree of Life 18. 13 Assassins [Jûsan-nin no shikaku] 17. The Ides of March 16. The Adjustment Bureau 15. Young Adult 14. War Horse 13. The Descendants 12. Shame 11. Captain America: The First Avenger 10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 9. 50/50 8. X-Men: First Class 7. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 6. Contagion 5. Warrior 4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 3. Drive 2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 1. Hugo

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Academy Award Predictions

Here are my predictions and rankings for this year's Academy Awards. The number denotes where I'd rank the movie against its fellow nominees. Movies I've not seen are left unnumbered. An asterisk denotes a non-nominated movie that would have been my top overall choice in a category for the year. The list is in the order the show will supposedly proceed in.

Best Cinematography
1. War Horse
2. The Tree of Life
3. Hugo
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5. The Artist

Will Win: The Tree of Life
Could Win: The Artist
Should Have Been Here: Melancholia, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Jane Eyre


Best Art Direction
1. Hugo
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
3. War Horse
4. The Artist
5. Midnight in Paris

Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Jane Eyre, Thor, Melancholia


Best Costume Design
1. Jane Eyre
2. Hugo
3. The Artist
Anonymous
W.E.

Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: Hugo
Should Have Been Here: *X-Men: First Class, Midnight in Paris


Best Makeup
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
2. The Iron Lady
3. Albert Nobbs

Will Win: The Iron Lady
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Contagion


Best Foreign Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

Will Win: A Separation
Could Win: In Darkness
Should Have Been Here: *13 Assassins (Japan)


Best Supporting Actress
1. Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
2. Jessica Chastain (The Help)
3. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
4. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
5. Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Will Win: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: *Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), Marion Cotillard (Midnight in Paris)


Best Editing
1. Hugo
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3. The Artist
4. The Descendants
5. Moneyball

Will Win: Hugo
Could Win: The Artist
Should Have Been Here: *Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Drive


Best Sound Editing
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2. War Horse
3. Hugo
4. Drive
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Will Win: Hugo
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: *Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol


Best Sound Mixing
1. War Horse
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3. Hugo
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5. Moneyball

Will Win: Hugo
Could Win: War Horse
Should Have Been Here: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Best Documentary Feature
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Force
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Pina
Undefeated

Will Win: Undefeated
Could Win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Should Have Been Here: *Page One: Inside the New York Times, Life in a Day


Best Animated Feature
1. Kung Fu Panda 2
2. Rango
3. Puss in Boots
A Cat in Paris
Chico and Rita

Will Win: Rango
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Winnie the Pooh


Best Visual Effects
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
3. Hugo
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
5. Real Steel

Will Win: Hugo
Could Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Should Have Been Here: War Horse, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol


Best Supporting Actor
1. Nick Nolte (Warrior)
2. Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
3. Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
4. Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
5. Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Will Win: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Could Win: Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Should Have Been Here: *Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre)


Best Score
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. War Horse
3. The Artist
4. The Adventures of Tintin
5. Hugo

Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Captain America: The First Avenger


Best Song
1. "Man or Muppet" (The Muppets)
2. "Real in Rio" (Rio)

Will Win: "Man or Muppet" (The Muppets)
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: *"Star-Spangled Man" (Captain America: The First Avenger), "Hanna's Theme" (Hanna)


Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
2. The Descendants
3. Hugo
4. The Ides of March
5. Moneyball

Will Win: The Descendants
Could Win: Moneyball
Should Have Been Here: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Adjustment Bureau


Best Original Screenplay
1. Midnight in Paris
2. Margin Call
3. Bridesmaids
4. The Artist
A Separation

Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Could Win: The Artist
Should Have Been Here: *50/50, Attack the Block, Contagion


Best Live Action Short
Pentecost
Raju
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantica

Will Win: The Shore
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: null


Best Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Will Win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blosson
Could Win: Incident in New Baghdad
Should Have Been Here: null


Best Animated Short
Dimanche
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Will Win: La Luna
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: *Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation, Toy Story Toons: Small Fry


Best Director
1. Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
2. Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
3. Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
4. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
5. Alexander Payne (The Descendants)

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Could Win: Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Should Have Been Here: Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), Gavin O'Connor (Warrior)


Best Actor
1. Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
2. George Clooney (The Descendants)
3. Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
4. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
5. Demian Bichir (A Better Life)

Will Win: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Could Win: George Clooney (The Descendants)
Should Have Been Here: Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class or Shame), Ryan Gosling (Drive)


Best Actress
1. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
2. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
3. Viola Davis (The Help)
4. Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
5. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)

Will Win: Viola Davis (The Help)
Could Win: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Should Have Been Here: *Charlize Theron (Young Adult), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia), Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau)


Best Picture
1. Hugo
2. The Descendants
3. War Horse
4. The Tree of Life
5. Midnight in Paris
6. The Artist
7. Moneyball
8. The Help
9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Will Win: The Artist
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Drive, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Warrior, Contagion, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, X-Men: First Class, 50/50, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2010 Movie Review List

2010 Movies:

127 Hours: 10/10
30 Days of Night: Dark Days: 4/10
A-Team, The: 7/10
Agora: 7/10
Alice in Wonderland: 3/10
All Good Things: 5/10
American, The: 9/10
Animal Kingdom: 8/10
Assassin Next Door, The [Kirot]: 4/10
Babies: 5/10
Back-Up Plan, The: 1/10
Barney's Version: 6/10
Batman: Under the Red Hood: 6/10
Black Swan: 9/10
Blue Valentine: 8/10
Book of Eli, The: 6/10
Bounty Hunter, The: 2/10
Brooklyn's Finest: 5/10
Buried: 6/10
Burlesque: 6/10
Cairo Time: 8/10
Call Girl, A [Slovenka]: 5/10
Calvin Marshall: 7/10
Carlos: 10/10
Case 39: 2/10
Casino Jack and the United States of Money: 4/10
Cemetery Junction: 4/10
Centurion: 7/10
Charlie St. Cloud: 4/10
Chloe: 5/10
Chronicles of Narnia, The: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: 5/10
Clash of the Titans: 6/10
Company Men, The: 8/10
Cop Out: 4/10
Crazies, The: 8/10
Creation: 5/10
Crimson Wing, The: Mystery of the Flamingos: 7/10
Damage: 4/10
Date Night: 7/10
Daybreakers: 4/10
Dear John: 5/10
Death at a Funeral: 6/10
Descent, The: Part 2: 5/10
Despicable Me: 8/10
Devil: 5/10
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: 7/10
Dinner for Schmucks: 5/10
Disappearance of Alice Creed, The: 8/10
District 13: Ultimatum [Banlieue 13 - Ultimatum]: 6/10
Dogtooth [Kynodontas]: 7/10
Due Date: 7/10
Easy A: 7/10
Eat Pray Love: 3/10
Edge of Darkness: 8/10
Exit Through the Gift Shop: 9/10
Expendables, The: 5/10
Extraordinary Measures: 4/10
Fair Game: 6/10
Faster: 5/10
Fighter, The: 8/10
Flipped: 7/10
From Paris with Love: 6/10
Frozen: 5/10
Get Him to the Greek: 7/10
Get Low: 6/10
Ghost Writer, The: 9/10
Girl who Played with Fire, The [Flickan som lekte med elden]: 5/10
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The [Män som hatar kvinnor]: 8/10
Going the Distance: 6/10
Greatest, The: 5/10
Green Zone: 5/10
Greenberg: 5/10
Grown Ups: 4/10
Gulliver's Travels: 2/10
Halo Legends: 4/10
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: 9/10
Hereafter: 4/10
Holy Rollers: 7/10
Hot Tub Time Machine: 6/10
How Do You Know: 7/10
How to Make Love to a Woman: 1/10
How to Train Your Dragon: 8/10
Human Centipede, The (First Sequence): 5/10
Hunt to Kill: 3/10
I Love You Phillip Morris: 7/10
I Spit on Your Grave: 3/10
I'm Still Here: 7/10
Inception: 9/10
Ip Man [Yip Man]: 7/10
Iron Man 2: 8/10
It's Kind of a Funny Story: 7/10
Jackass 3D: 7/10
Jonah Hex: 4/10
Joneses, The: 7/10
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: 5/10
Karate Kid, The: 7/10
Kick-Ass: 8/10
Kids Are All Right, The: 8/10
Killer Inside Me, The: 6/10
Killers: 3/10
King's Speech, The: 10/10
Knight and Day: 7/10
Knucklehead: 2/10
Last Airbender, The: 2/10
Last Exorcism, The: 7/10
Last Song, The: 6/10
Leap Year: 4/10
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: 6/10
Legendary: 5/10
Legion: 5/10
Let Me In: 9/10
Letters to Juliet: 6/10
Little Fockers: 5/10
Losers, The: 7/10
MacGruber: 4/10
Machete: 5/10
Marmaduke: 4/10
Middle Men: 4/10
Monsters: 9/10
Morning Glory: 7/10
My Dog Tulip: 6/10
Never Let Me Go: 8/10
Next Three Days, The: 6/10
Nightmare on Elm Street, A: 3/10
Nowhere Boy: 7/10
Oceans: 7/10
Ondine: 7/10
Operation: Endgame: 4/10
Other Guys, The: 8/10
Oxford Murders, The: 6/10
Paranormal Activity 2: 4/10
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: 5/10
Perrier's Bounty: 6/10
Piranha 3D: 8/10
Planet Hulk: 3/10
Please Give: 7/10
Predators: 7/10
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: 6/10
Promise, The: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town: 7/10
Prophet, A [Un prophète]: 8/10
Rabbit Hole: 8/10
Red: 7/10
Red Baron, The [Der rote Baron]: 5/10
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974: 8/10
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980: 6/10
Remember Me: 5/10
Repo Men: 7/10
Resident Evil: Afterlife: 6/10
Restrepo: 9/10
Robin Hood: 6/10
Runaways, The: 5/10
Salt: 8/10
Saw 3D: 5/10
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: 9/10
Secret in Their Eyes, The [El secreto de sus ojos]: 9/10
Secret of Kells, The: 8/10
Secretariat: 6/10
Sex and the City 2: 2/10
Sharktopus: 3/10
She's Out of My League: 6/10
Shinjuku Incident [San suk si gin]: 7/10
Shrek Forever After: 7/10
Shutter Island: 9/10
Skyline: 2/10
Social Network, The: 10/10
Solitary Man: 8/10
Somewhere: 7/10
Sorcerer's Apprentice, The: 7/10
Special Relationship, The: 7/10
Splice: 3/10
Spy Next Door, The: 3/10
Step Up 3D: 4/10
Stolen: 4/10
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse: 5/10
Survival of the Dead: 3/10
Switch, The: 5/10
Tangled: 8/10
TiMER: 5/10
Tooth Fairy: 3/10
Town, The: 10/10
Toy Story 3: 10/10
Triage: 5/10
TRON: Legacy: 6/10
True Grit: 9/10
Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The: 6/10
Unstoppable: 8/10
Valentine's Day: 4/10
Valhalla Rising: 3/10
Vampires Suck: 1/10
Waking Sleeping Beauty: 7/10
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: 4/10
Way Back, The: 9/10
When in Rome: 4/10
Winning Season, The: 7/10
Winter's Bone: 9/10
Wolfman, The: 4/10
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: 3/10
Youth in Revolt: 5/10


2010 Short Films:

Day and Night: 7/10
DC Showcase: Green Arrow: 8/10
DC Showcase: Jonah Hex: 7/10
DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam: 5/10
DC Showcase: The Spectre: 7/10
Plastic Bag: 8/10
Red Dead Redemption: 3/10
Scrat's Continental Crack-Up: 6/10


Top 10 of 2010 (so far):
Honorable Mentions: The Ghost Writer, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The American, Restrepo, Monsters, Rabbit Hole, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Black Swan, El secreto de sus ojos, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Way Back, Winter's Bone, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, The Crazies, Never Let Me Go, The Fighter, Unstoppable, Kick-Ass, Blue Valentine, Un prophète, Iron Man 2, How to Train Your Dragon, Animal Kingdom, Tangled, The Kids Are All Right, The Company Men
10. Let Me In
9. True Grit
8. Inception
7. Shutter Island
6. Carlos
5. The King's Speech
4. The Social Network
3. The Town
2. Toy Story 3
1. 127 Hours

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Academy Award Predictions

Below are my rankings for the Top 40 Films of 2010 along with my predictions for the Academy Awards. I've ranked all the nominees I've seen by my preference in the category, then alphabetically for those I have not. I listed my prediction for the win, a possible spoiler and which film should have been recognized in each category (so if I list three 'should have been here' contenders it means I would replace the bottom three candidates in my ranking of the nominees with those to form my ideal ballot).


Best Picture:

1. 127 Hours
2. Toy Story 3
3. The Social Network
4. The King's Speech
5. Inception
6. True Grit
7. Black Swan
8. Winter's Bone
9. The Fighter
10. The Kids are All Right

Will Win: The King's Speech
Could Win: The Social Network
Should Have Been Here: The Town, Shutter Island, Carlos, Let Me In

An amazing year in the category, for once I genuinely liked every nominee.

Best Director

1. David Fincher, The Social Network
2. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
3. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
4. Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
5. David O. Russell, The Fighter

Will Win: David Fincher
Could Win: Tom Hooper
Should Have Been Here: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours; Christopher Nolan, Inception; Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island

Best Actor

1. James Franco, 127 Hours
2. Colin Firth, The King's Speech
3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Javier Bardem, Biutiful

Will Win: Colin Firth
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island; Andrew Garfield, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974; Edgar Ramirez, Carlos

Best Actress

1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
2. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
3. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
4. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
5. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

The only poor selection here would be Bening who wasn't even the best female lead in her movie (Julianne Moore gave a far more interesting performance)

Will Win: Natalie Portman
Could Win: Annette Bening
Should Have Been Here: Rachel Weisz, Agora; Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs; Emma Stone, Easy A; Chloe Moretz, Let Me In; Patricia Clarkson, Cairo Time

Best Supporting Actor

1. Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
2. Jeremy Renner, The Town
3. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
4. Christian Bale, The Fighter
5. John Hawkes, Winter's Bone

Another superb set of nominees, all are deserving

Will Win: Christian Bale
Could Win: Geoffrey Rush
Should Have Been Here: Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; Joe Anderson, The Crazies

Best Supporting Actress

1. Amy Adams, The Fighter
2. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
3. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
4. Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
5. Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Sadly, it looks like Melissa Leo is going to win for a scenery chewing over the top performance.

Will Win: Melissa Leo
Could Win: Hailee Steinfeld, Helena Bonham Carter
Should Have Been Here: Mila Kunis, Black Swan; Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer; Soledad Villamil, The Secret in Their Eyes; Mia Wasikowski, The Kids Are All Right

Best Animated Film

1. Toy Story 3
2. How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist

Will Win: Toy Story 3
Could Win: null
Could Have Been Here: Tangled, Despicable Me

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Dogtooth (Greece)
Biutiful (Mexico)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

Will Win: Biutiful
Could Win: In a Better World
Should Have Been Here: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)

Best Documentary Feature

1. Restrepo
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Waste Land

Will Win: Inside Job
Could Win: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Should Have Been Here: Waking Sleeping Beauty

Best Original Screenplay

1. The King's Speech
2. The Kids Are All Right
3. The Fighter
4. Inception
Another Year

Will Win: The Kids Are All Right
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Monsters, Carlos

Best Adapted Screenplay

1, Toy Story 3
2. 127 Hours
3. The Social Network
4. True Grit
5. Winter's Bone

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: null
Should Have Been Here: The Town

Best Art Direction

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
2. True Grit
3. Inception
4. The King's Speech
5. Alice in Wonderland

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Shutter Island, The Wolfman

Best Cinematography

1. True Grit
2. Black Swan
3. Inception
4. The Social Network
5. The King's Speech

Will Win: True Grit
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 127 Hours, Shutter Island, The Way Back

Best Film Editing

1. 127 Hours
2. The Social Network
3. Black Swan
4. The King's Speech
5. The Fighter

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: The King's Speech
Should Have Been Here: Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Shutter Island

Best Visual Effects

1. Inception
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
3. Iron Man 2
4. Alice in Wonderland
5. Hereafter

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: Alice in Wonderland
Could Have Been Here: Scott Pilgrim vs the World, The Social Network

Best Original Score

1. 127 Hours, A.R. Rahman
2. The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
3. Inception, Hans Zimmer
4. How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell
5. The King's Speech, Alexandre Desplat

Will Win: The Social Network
Could Win: Inception
Should Have Been Here: Never Let Me Go, Rachel Portman; TRON: Legacy, Daft Punk; Toy Story 3, Randy Newman; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Alexandre Desplat

Best Original Song

1. "I See the Light" (Tangled)
2. "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3)
3. "If I Rise" (127 Hours)
4. "Coming Home" (Country Strong)

Will Win: "I See the Light"
Could Win: "If I Rise," "We Belong Together"
Should Have Been Here: "Eclipse: All Yours" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

Best Sound Editing

1. TRON: Legacy
2. Inception
3. Unstoppable
4. True Grit
5. Toy Story 3

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: True Grit
Should Have Been Here: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 127 Hours, How to Train Your Dragon

Best Sound Mixing

1. Inception
2. Salt
3. True Grit
4. The Social Network
5. The King's Speech

Will Win: Inception
Could Win: Salt
Should Have Been Here: TRON: Legacy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 127 Hours, Shutter Island, The Crazies

Best Costume Design

1. True Grit
2. The King's Speech
3. Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The Tempest

Will Win: The King's Speech
Could Win: Alice in Wonderland
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan, Robin Hood, The Way Back, The Wolfman

Best Makeup

1. The Wolfman
2. Barney's Version
3. The Way Back

Will Win: The Wolfman
Could Win: Barney's Version
Should Have Been Here: Black Swan

Best Animated Short

1. Day and Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Will Win: Madagascar, a Journey Diary
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: DC Showcase: Green Arrow

Best Live Action Short

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Will Win: The Confession
Could Win: any
Should Have Been Here: Paper Bag

Best Documentary Short

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Will Win: The Warriors of Qiugang
Could Win: Strangers No More
Should Have Been Here: (Abstain)


Top 40 Movies of 2011
40. Agora
39. Edge of Darkness
38. The Disappearance of Alice Creed
37. Salt
36. Cairo Time
35. The Company Men
34. The Kids Are All Right
33. Tangled
32. Animal Kingdom
31. How to Train Your Dragon
30. Iron Man 2
29. A Prophet (Un prophète)
28. Blue Valentine
27. Kick-Ass
26. Unstoppable
25. The Fighter
24. Never Let Me Go
23. The Crazies
22. Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974
21. Winter's Bone
20. The Way Back
19. Exit Through the Gift Shop
18. The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos)
17. Rabbit Hole
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
15. Black Swan
14. Monsters
13. Restrepo
12. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
11. The Ghost Writer
10. Let Me In
9. True Grit
8. Inception
7. Shutter Island
6. Carlos
5. The King's Speech
4. The Social Network
3. The Town
2. Toy Story 3
1. 127 Hours

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Movie Commercials

The Eagle (February 11)*

Sadly, the ads make The Eagle look like a lightweight version of Gladiator starring the very un-Roman Channing Tatum. They'd be better suited emphasizing the quality of filmmaker involved (director Kevin MacDonald also made State of Play and The Last King of Scotland) and the top flight supporting cast (Donald Sutherland, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Tahir Rahim) instead of poorly trying to pander to fans of dumb action movies. Also, I can't imagine many Americans would understand what the significance of 'the' eagle is to a Roman soldier so why not either keep the film's original title (The Eagle of the Ninth) or come up with something stupider to pander to American audiences.

Just Go With It (February 11)*

Better than those horrific Facebook status inspired commercials that litter the airwaves lately, the Just Go With It Super Bowl commercial at least seems to sell the movie's box office strengths: Adam Sandler-style humor and Brooklyn Decker in a bikini. It does look like a step-up from the last few more family friendly (Grown Ups and Bedtime Stories) and serious (Funny People) Adam Sandler movies. Interesting that the marketing department has completely removed Nicole Kidman from the trailers and commercials as she has one of the film's largest roles.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (February 11)**

Absolutely no interest here, but credit should go to the marketing department for making this at least appear to be a Bieber biopic instead of just another overpriced 3D concert film (like Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, U2 and The Rolling Stones in recent years).

I Am Number Four (February 18)*
<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=d7ebe3a0-1f95-4505-91ec-d619a3cc0d83" target="_new" title="">Dreamworks: 'I Am Number Four'</a>
I believe I Am Number Four is supposed to feel like the epic start of a new franchise but it justs seems a bit dull. The lead actor, Alex Pettyfer, seems to lack any of the necessary charisma to carry an action movie. At least this spot emphasizes great TV actor Timothy Olyphant, but I can't imagine he is going to put many asses in theater seats.

Drive Angry: Shot in 3D (February 25)*

It seems remarkable to me that in the course of two months Nicolas Cage could have two of the worst movies ever released. At the very least this one seems to be embracing a spirit of trashy fun more than Season of the Witch. However, they've done nothing in the marketing to suggest this is the sort of movie that merits the extra money for 3D despite the commercial begging otherwise.

The Adjustment Bureau (March 4)*

I have no idea why they're advertising this as a trashy scifi action movie. The movie is full of damn good actors (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Terrence Stamp, Anthony Mackie) and is every bit as much a love story as an action movie. If they bring the focus back to the Damon-Blunt love story and try to appeal to a more upscale viewer I think they'd have a far better shot at making some money.

Rango (March 4)

To Rango's credit, it sports the only unique look and style of the many animated movies marketed last night. With an appearance that seems computer generated by way of Ray Harryhausen creations (think: the original Clash of the Titans) and a relatively funny trailer I think Rango's marketing is right on to capture a broad audience.

Take Me Home Tonight (March 4)**

Didn't this movie come out last year under the title Hot Tub Time Machine, only with funnier actors? Seems like nothing more than a bland 80s-set sex comedy with an unappealing lead actor.

Battle: Los Angeles (March 11)*

Late last year a movie was released called Skyline. The directors of Skyline are special effects gurus who created new effects technology for use in Battle: Los Angeles. They then re-utilized that technology and cranked out the atrocious Skyline in just a few months. By making another aliens invade Los Angeles movie, they're effectively undercutting the movie that bankrolled the creation of the new effects technology. Thankfully, it looks like Battle: Los Angeles has exciting and unique enough commercials to sell this premise. The commercial hits all the right notes, giving the viewer a look at the lead actors, the plot and the action. More importantly, the effects look impressive enough that it has more of a summer 'feel' than the typical March movie so it should play out like a major event at the box office.

Mars Needs Moms (March 11)
<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=d7ebe3a0-1f95-4505-91ec-d619a3cc0d83" target="_new" title="">Dreamworks: 'I Am Number Four'</a>
Using the lifeless zombie animation style of film's like The Polar Express and Beowulf and sporting a broad, bland sense of humor, Mars Needs Moms looks like an absolute dud.

Limitless (March 18)

Bradley Cooper as a smarmy guy who knows everything seems like perfect casting, De Niro looks motivated and Kanye music fits the premise extremely well. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the movie is awful, but for now I'm sold.

Hop (April 1)*

One of the worst previews of the night, Hop's commercial told us basically nothing about the film's plot or premise. The animation style seems bland and Song 2 by Blur was a better fit in trailers nearly15 years ago when paired with movies like Starship Troopers.

Rio (April 15)

Another nominee for worst commercials of the night, Rio looks colorful but the trailer tells us next to nothing about what to expect from the movie. With so much animation on the schedule, movies need to stand out and Rio utterly fails to.

Fast Five (April 29)

I didn't particularly care for Fast & Furious (the series' 4th film), but for some reason I find myself pretty excited for the sequel. Throwing in some parkour and The Rock seem like good moves to keep the enjoyably trashy series strong. An impressive money shot at the end of the commercial of Diesil and Walker jumping out of a car flying off a cliff and 'The Summer Begins' tagline make for a solid way to sell Fast Five as an event movie.

Thor (May 6)

I want to be excited for this movie SO badly, but the marketing so far just isn't really hitting home for me. I think that the movie is fantastically well cast, that Kenneth Branagh is an inspired choice of director and that the efforts to link Thor into the upcoming Avengers movie should keep it from getting to fantasy-esque. But this commercial is just kind of uninspiring. A lot of mediocre CGI (what the hell is that creature at the end of the commercial?), hokey costumes and unimpressive action are making me pretty nervous about Thor.

Priest (May 13)*

Why is this January junk being released during the summer?!? The same star and director as 2010's mediocre January Legion, along with a weaker supporting cast and a 3D post-conversion that is all but certain to damage eyeballs, make Priest look like a disaster on the horizon.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20)

I like that the commercials seems to emphasize that gone are the convoluted plots of Pirates 2 and 3, replaced by a back to basics approach that hearkens backs to the superb original film. I can't quite put my fingers on it - I don't know if it's the fact that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are gone or the change in director to Rob Marshall (Chicago) from Gore Verbinski - but something about this trailer leaves me a bit uninspired. Maybe the sequels have already done too much damage to the franchise.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 27)*

The commercials is a decent enough play on the classic sports anthem 'We Will Rock You' and the character is likable enough that the movie watchable. I don't understand Dreamworks' hubris with this series though - they've already planned for 5 sequels.

Super 8 (June 10)

Seemingly I'm in the minority, but the trailer for J.J. Abrams' Super 8 was a big hit for me. Intended as a tribute to Steven Spielberg's early career, Super 8's commercial manages to evoke E.T., Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in just 30 seconds. Not a great idea about the exact plot, but it's clear enough some sort of creature escapes from a train in a 70s town. Nice to see a summer movie starring role for Kyle Chandler, so good on Friday Night Lights.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1)

The big surprise of the night for me. Like most, I hated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I've been cautiously optimistic about the fact that Michael Bay seems to recognize the many ways the first Transformers sequel went astray. The Super Bowl commercials was basically 30 seconds of Chicago getting absolutely ravaged by Transformers, capped off by an impressive long take shot of Optimus Prime fighting his way through the city streets. Michael Bay can still craft some of the most impressive action scenes in Hollywood and, mercifully, this dark commercial suggests a stark move away from the horrifically stupid humor of Transformers 2.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)

The trailer was a tiny bit of a disappointment for me. I loved the designs and the World War II setting (director Joe Johnston previously made The Rocketeer and was a key art director and special effects designer for the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones series), but the action seemed somewhat unimpressive. Tough to tell much of anything about Chris Evans' performance (he says five words in the trailer), but it does sadly seems like his signature humor will be part of the role. Cautiously optimistic about Captain America at this point.

Cowboys and Aliens (July 29)

The director of Iron Man (Jon Favreau) plus the star of Casino Royale and, arguably, the greatest 'event movie' actor of all time equals a movie for which I'm damn excited. Despite the dumb title, Cowboys and Aliens looks like it's going to sport a motivated Harrison Ford, top flight action, a great supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Walton Goggins) and some fantastically bizarre creature and set designs. Cowboys and Aliens is probably the movie I'm most excited for in the summer of 2011 and this commercial only strengthened that notion.

* denotes a movie trailer that aired before the Super Bowl
** denotes a movie trailer that aired during the post-Super Bowl episode of Glee