Top 5 Pixar Moments

When naming your favorite animated movies, chances are a Pixar movie holds at least one spot on the list.  Since Toy Story‘s debut in 1995, the studio’s feature films have been nominated for 24 Academy Awards and have taken home 11. Their thirteenth feature film, Brave, hit theaters this last weekend. What better time to list out favorite Pixar moments?

This list was a tricky one. There’s nothing quite like a Pixar film, and each of them have dozens of memorable moments. Narrowing our list down to one moment from each film was quite a task. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

DANIEL’S FAVORITES

5. The Incredibles Teaser Trailer

Even though the scene never made it into the movie, the teaser trailer for The Incredibles is easily one of the funniest things Pixar has ever done. It’s a simple enough scenario: Mr. Incredible is suiting up to go and fight crime. The only problem is he’s outgrown his belt. Comedic genius ensues.

4. “Married Life” – Up

What sets Pixar animation up from other studios is that their uncanny ability to elicit every moment from the audience. The opening to Up is a beautiful and intimate portrait of a romance that started in childhood and lasted a lifetime. With an incredibly believable story that sucks you in immediately, Up holds the record for being the only movie that makes me cry before it reaches the thirty minute mark.

3. Boo and Sulley Say Goodbye – Monsters, Inc. 

Speaking of moments that make you cry, how’s this one for a tear-jerker? Boo and Sully dont’ get much time alone during their adventures in Monsters, Inc, but their relationship throughout the film is an adorable one to watch develop. After all the chaos they’ve been through together, Boo finally gets to show Sully all her toys and get tucked into bed. It’s a wonderful moment between the two.

2. Andy Plays With His Toys One Last Time – Toy Story 3

The perfect ending a timeless trilogy.

1. “It’s okay. Daddy’s here.” – Finding Nemo

My personal favorite Pixar movie, every scene in this movie could have easily vied for a spot on this list. But there’s a small moment that makes me cry like a baby every time I watch the movie. After his wife and his children were devoured by a barracuda, Marlin finds a lone clown fish egg. Picking it up in his fins, he speaks four simple words. “It’s okay. Daddy’s here.” Later in the movie when he finally reunites with his son, he holds him again, repeating the same four words as we have a brief flashback to the little egg in Marlin hands. It’s the perfect example of how Pixar movies, after making us laugh at things like speaking whale and crazy seagullls, can also make us cry.

JOSEPH’S FAVORITES

5. “Not a Flying Toy” – Toy Story

Looking back at the Pixar films, I was kind of surprised at this one. When I watched Toy Story the first few times, I was more involved in the story of Woody and enamored with the concept of talking toys. On subsequent viewings, however, I keep coming back to this scene. It’s really emotional (it is Pixar, after all), and magnifies the Buzz Lightyear storyline even more.

4. “Define Dancing” – WALL-E

I wouldn’t be able to call myself a human being if I didn’t include this delightful moment between two robots dancing together among the stars. The music, visuals, and chemistry all blend together to make this memorable.

3. “No Capes!” – The Incredibles

Enough with the emotional scenes; there’s plenty more in the next two picks. This time I’m going with one of my favorite Pixar characters (voiced by director Brad Bird), Edna Mode. The Incredibles is Pixar’s take on super heroes, and Edna’s speech (i.e. rant) about capes is a loving jab at the genre, and great slapstick comedy.

2. “Ratatouille” – Ratatouille

There are many wonderful moments in Ratatouille, but the one that gets me every time is when the food critic Anton Ego eats the titular Ratatouille at the end of the film. His trip down memory lane is a touching, nostalgic moment that shows the power that the senses can have.

1. “Married Life” – Up

Up is one of the few movies that I enjoyed watching in 3D, and the only one that caused me to wipe off my 3D glasses 15 minutes into the film. It’s been overstated ad nauseum, but the opening montage from Up not only sets the rest of the film up beautifully, but could easily be viewed as a stand-alone short film.  I’m continually blown away by Pixar’s use of story, visuals, and pathos, and this is one of their finest moments.

Prometheus Review

As soon as Ridley Scott announced he was making a new science fiction movie, fanboys immediately dubbed it the quintessential Alien prequel. Even after its release, people are citing ways in which Prometheus relates to Scott’s original film. I cannot emphasize more that Prometheus has almost nothing to do with Alien. The two movies don’t even take place on the same planet. Admittedly, Alien will be seen in a different context after viewing this movie, but it is not at all essential to understanding the 1979 classic. Instead, Prometheus stands on its own as a solid genre piece, but is that really a bad thing?

Alien, a personal favorite of mine, works so well because an explanation of the origins of the planet and the grotesque, violent monster that abides in its depths is never provided. Like Hannibal in The Silence of the Lambs and the Joker in The Dark Knight, some of the greatest characters manifested on film have mysterious origins. Giving the xenomorph an intricate origin story would have been a grave misstep, as most prequels usually are. Even though there are nods to the alien in this movie, the mysterious element present in Alien is preserved.

The year is 2089. Archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of cave drawings from a number of civilizations who shared no contact with one another but each containing a map of a solar system billions of miles from earth. Five years later, the multi-trillion dollar ship known as the Prometheus lands on the distant moon LV-223. Their mission is to find what they call the Engineers, extraterrestrial beings who created human beings. As evidenced by its opening scene, the movie operates under the assumption that aliens were responsible for our entire existence. The mission of the Prometheus is not to prove this fact, but to meet their makers.

The script, penned by Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and relative newcomer Jon Spaihts, takes its time setting up its story and characters. The film is relatively uneventful for its first hour or so, introducing us to the world of LV-22 and masterfully building intrigue and an impending sense of doom. Almost all of the characters are believable and interesting, and the story never goes flat. Though that isn’t to say that the script doesn’t have its issues.

“How far would you go to get what you came all this way for, your answers? What would you be willing to do?” David, the android aboard the Prometheus played masterfully by Michael Fassbender, proposes this question to Charlie. This idea of meeting our maker and discovering our reason for existence is touched on multiple times in the film, but inexplicably abandoned by the third act. In fact, many of the movie’s plot lines are left unresolved by the film’s climax.

Decisions made by some of the characters make no sense at all and exist only to aid the plot and transition to the next scene. This adds a dose of detachment from the characters because we don’t understand why they are acting this way. For example, if you were a biologist and encountered a new extraterrestrial being, would your first reaction be to try and pet it? If a woman covered and a recently stitched surgical incision stumbled into the room would you act unphased and pretend its just another day at the office? It’s just lazy writing. While this doesn’t destroy the movie altogether, it does turn the film into a good movie rather than a great one.

On a technical level, the look of the film is breathtaking and full of detail. The visual effects are top notch, from the set design aboard the Prometheus to the mysterious depths of LV-22. The cast does a wonderful job with what they are given, and Fassbender in particular shines in yet another dynamic performance. The movie is full of memorable experiences, from a chilling operation scene to the destruction of an alien spaceship. Scott’s decision to film the movie with 3D cameras was a successful one and provides an even greater depth to the visual aesthetics in the film.  After less-than-stellar movies like Robin Hood and Body of Lies, it’s wonderful to see Ridley Scott remind us why he’s one of the best directors out there.

If you haven’t seen Prometheus yet, I urge you to do so. The fact that a summer blockbuster is generating conversation should be reason enough to check this movie out. After mindless outings like Snow White and Battleship, isn’t it nice to finally have a movie that gets people talking. Plus, we don’t get many science fiction films of this caliber. Prometheus has its flaws, some of them gaping, but it is still worth a look.

Snow White and the Huntsman Review

I’m sure there’s a good movie hidden somewhere in Snow White and the Huntsman. Some are sure to find this movie an enjoyable summer outing, but this reviewer found himself shoving popcorn into his mouth of out sheer boredom.

Imprisoned in a tower since childhood by the evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), Snow White (Kristen Stewart) spends her days reciting the Lord’s Prayer and building fires to keep her warm. Her decision to finally escape her captors conveniently coincides with the Queen’s decision to kill her, and she escapes into the dark forest. Desperate to remain the fairest of them all and keep her immortality, the Queen hires a hunstman (Chris Hemsworth) to track Snow White down.

It should be noted here that the only thing keeping me in my seat was Charlize Theron’s performance. She creates a compelling villain that is terrifying and at times even sympathetic. She is responsible for some of the film’s more creative sequences, including a creepy transformation into a flock of crows. Sadly, she is inexplicably absent after the film reaches its halfway point, showing up briefly to remind us that she still exists and longs for Snow White’s death.

Hemsworth is also fun to watch as the axe-wielding, mead-chugging Hunstman. He’s perfect for action-oriented roles like this, but he still brings a certain amount of depth to his character. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, is given almost no dialogue at all. What little dialogue she has in the film is delivered in cringe-inducing emotionless staccato. I haven’t given up on Stewart as a decent actress yet, but she needs to find a better acting coach.

First-time director Rupert Sanders never seems to find a comfortable pace. The movie’s second act is far too long and its finale too short and frustratingly anticlimactic. Nothing ever seems at stake. We know that Snow White defeats Ravenna, but the way it goes down in the movie is ridiculously easy. When the seven dwarfs finally do show up, it’s almost as if it was an afterthought. The action scenes, which are something of a cross between Robin Hood and The Lord of the Rings, are bereft of excitement. The whole movie’s a mess.

There’s no denying that Snow White and the Huntsman sucessfully creates a dark world full of magic and mystery at every turn. If only the people who inhabit this world were just as interesting. While it has a pretty commendable cast, the movie doesn’t employ them well enough. The movie’s meandering plot, combined with an anticlimactic finale and bland protagonist, transform this adventure into more of a boring lullaby than an epic adventure.

The Avengers Review

For lack of a better word, The Avengers is badass. Easily the best Marvel adaptation since Iron Man, the movie teams up Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye up against the villainous Loki and his army of robotic alien beings. Opening tonight at midnight in theaters nationwide, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers packs a wallop.

Chances are you’ve seen at least one of the previous Marvel movies that establish the characters I listed earlier, but it won’t be an issue if you haven’t – unless you’re my girlfriend of course. The movie is solid blockbuster entertainment for anyone, whether they are a comic book geek or not. This movie has everything you need in a summer movie. There are laughs, spectacular action scenes, a dash of romance, and for some people maybe even some tears.

The fact that the movie is not an origin story like almost all superhero movies is rewarding because it allows the film to jump right into the action. That being said, it takes a strangely longer amount of time for the movie to gain traction than I expected.

The movie’s first act lays out why such an impressive list of people would be summoned to fight evil and then introduces them to the picture one character at a time. This is a bit tedious and could have been trimmed down just a bit, but once the movie gets rolling there’s no stopping it.

The second act focuses on the group’s struggle to work together as a team. After all, when you bring a bunch of invincible warriors together, there’s going to be a bit of conflict. Part of the fun of the Avengers is that we get to see our favorite superheroes duke it out with each other. By the time the last act rolls around, you’ll be firmly rooted to your seat. The final action piece is a jaw-dropping action sequence that will have you cheering.

The movie’s greatest strength is that it doesn’t center itself on one or two of the characters. Nobody is put on the backburner or is turned into a supporting character. Each is given ample screen time and dialogue. Thanks to Whedon’s script and solid direction, the characters are even given further characterization, most notably Black Widow. First introduced in Iron Man 2, Black Widow was nothing more than a hot babe who packed quite a punch. Whedon, who has a history of crafting strong female characters, transforms her into a multidimensional character with a dark past. Loki isn’t as dark or mischievous as he was when we first saw him, but he is one of the highlights of the film and works as a great villain. Iron Man and Thor are enjoyable as ever, though I was slightly disappointed we didn’t see more from CaptainAmerica. Last and most certainly not least, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk is easily the best version adaptation ever. Ruffalo plays the part of the mild-mannered scientist perfectly, and the way he is implanted into the action scenes helps him to steal the show.

I should mention that I was very disappointed in the way that the movie presented Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner is a very capable actor and Hawkeye is a fairly interesting minor playing in the Marvel comics. After his brief appearance in Thor last summer, I was looking forward to seeing what he would be given to work with in The Avengers. While he does shine in the action sequences, we are given a boring character that spends half the movie as Loki’s zombie and the other half spouting out dull one-liners.

Overall, The Avengers is an immensely enjoyable cinematic experience, solid blockbuster entertainment from beginning to end. Not only is it big screen entertainment at its finest, but it reminds us why the big screen experience is essential to enjoying some movies. I don’t care how good your entertainment system at home is. This is a must-see on the big screen. The Avengers starts summer off with a bang and was very much worth the wait. It might even turn you into a comic book geek.

Top Ten of 2011

I put this list off for quite some time, intent on catching up with all the movies that had come out this year. It wasn’t a spectacular year for film, but there were ten movies that stood above the other mediocre outings and hold a place in my heart. Here are those movies.

10. THE MUPPETS

An irresistible and charming movie that cemented a smile onto my face and  had me skipping out of the theater with glee, The Muppets was one of my favorite movie-going experiences of the year. It had been 12 years since the last Muppet movie, and their return to the big screen resulted in the most charming, lighthearted family movie of the year.

9. TAKE SHELTER

I caught up with Take Shelter later than most did, but it left a lasting impression on me nevertheless. Michael Shannon stars as Curtis, a man plagued by apocalyptic visions. He feels it is his responsibility as a husband, a father, and a man to protect his family from looming danger, despite the fact that everyone believes he is losing his mind. Take Shelter culminates in a chilling finale and is a movie that will stay with me for quite some time.

8. WARRIOR

I didn’t initially expect Warrior to make this list, but by the time the film reached its halfway point I was glued to my seat. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton light up the screen and have believable chemistry as two estranged brothers, with Nick Nolte turning in a rousing performance as their ex-alcoholic father. The ending of the film will have you on the edge of your seat. It is a movie not to be missed.

7. THE TREE OF LIFE

The most talked about and analyzed film of the year, Terence Malick’s Tree of Life has produced about every possible reaction from glowing praise to raging hate. I found to be one of the most intriguing films of the year. The film has its flaws, but I found its philosophical musings hard to resist. Malick, who holds a degree in philosophy from Harvard, examines the meaning of life from its origins to our time on this earth to what happens after we die. It is a film unlike any other, and one that I will continue to visit and glean new meanings from for years to come.

6. DRIVE

I wasn’t familiar with Nicolas Winding Refn before his latest film this year, but after seeing Drive I am eager to catch up with the remainder of his filmography. Ryan Gosling gives a subdued performance in Refn’s solidly directed outing that recalls films from the 70s, my personal favorite decade. Gosling plays a man simply known as Driver. We don’t know much about his past. We can only judge him by his actions. The film’s style is mesmerizing, making up for the simple story. It’s a masterfully made genre peice, and evidences a great director in the making.

5. THE HELP

Racism is a theme that has been explored countless times in movie after movie. What makes The Help stand out is its characters, brought to life by enchanting performances by every cast member. No matter how pivotal their role in the film, every character leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Another aspect that makes this film so unique is that all of its characters are women. For a movie that made over $200 million worldwide, that’s saying a lot. Some of the best movies are those that can elicit every emotion from you, and The Help does just that. You’ll be laughing one minute and then crying the next.

4. SHAME

One of the most intense character studies ever put to film, Shame also showcases the year’s best performance. Michael Fassbender is quickly joining the ranks of other greats character actors like Robert DeNiro and Daniel Day Lewis. Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, a successful individual struggling with a crippling sex addiction. The film has some content that may be hard to stomach, but those who can sit through this piece of cutting-edge movie-making will be rewarded with a compelling character study of a man struggling to keep his life together.

3. MONEYBALL

Bennet Miller directed both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill to Oscar nominations in the widely acclaimed baseball drama Moneyball, a film that is about so much more than baseball. It is about a man coming to grips with who he is, trying to do something with his life. It is a film about taking chances, going with what your gut tells you when everyone else tells you that you’re crazy. Bennet Miller made more than a simple sports drama. He gave us a wonderful testament to human spirit.

2. 50/50

I revisited 50/50 last night and was struck by the thematic importance of human relationships to the story. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, who is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. The film examines the ways in which Adam’s cancer effects his relationships with his parents, his girlfriend, and his best friend. It is in the hardest circumstances that our true colors show. 50/50 masterfully maintains the balance between comedy and drama, and never overdoses on either. It is a wonderful film about friendship that I will cherish for years to come.

1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2

Ten years have passsed and we’ve finally reached the end. I was a Potter fan from the start, and will continue to be one until the day I die. It may sound silly to you. Allow me to explain this somewhat unorthodox choice for the best movie of the year. Harry Potter’s adventures defined my childhood, and I was caught up in the magic of J.K. Rowling’s world. I attended midnight releases for both the books and the movies, dressed up in costumes, and hung posters in my room. Harry, Ron, Hermoine were very real and dear to me, their adventures epic. The finale to the Harry Potter franchise was a very emotional experience for me. My childhood was truly at an end. However, on a cinematic level it is also one of the most exciting fantasy adventures I have ever seen. The adventures may be over, but my love for these stories will never die. Mischief managed.

5 Worst Movies of 2011

I was wise enough to avoid films like Jack and Jill and Bucky Larson, but there were still a healthy handful of films that didn’t make the cut. I haven’t walked out of a movie in a while, but these five movies tested my strength.

5. The Sitter

I laughed twice in this movie. Once was because I found a joke slightly funny and felt obligated to laugh. The second time was a laugh of joy that the movie was over and I could leave. The Sitter is a boring, sometimes offensive adventure into joyless territory. As a big fan of Jonah Hill, I was sorely disappointed.

My review.

4. Columbiana

Columbiana is a ridiculously over-the-top action flick that totally lost my interest 15 minutes in. In a scene that had everyone in my showing snickering, a young girl promises her uncle that she will go to school in exchange for training to become an assassin. The action sequences are barely entertaining and a ridiculous script can’t make up for a sexy leading lady.

3. Battle: Los Angeles

If I had a penny for every time this movie entertained me, I’d be broke.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Point of advice to future screenwriters: don’t fall in love with your first draft. If Michael Bay had employed such a philosophy with Dark of the Moon, maybe we would have had a more engaging first half that was devoid of painfully unfunny performances by John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, and Frances McDormand. Instead, we get an uneventful movie where the actions scenes would have been more impressive had the rest of the movie not been so uninspired.

My review. 

1. Your Highness

The second film of David Gordon Green’s to appear on this list, Your Highness is one of the worst films I’ve seen in a very, very long time. I’m all for crude humor, but only if its funny. There isn’t a single moment in this movie that even comes close to well-executed humor. There aren’t enough negative adjectives to describe this movie. Just steer clear of it.

The Best Movie Moments of 2011

2011 wasn’t really a great year for movies as a whole, but it had a lot of great movie moments. After painful deliberation, I finally managed to narrow down my 25 favorite moments of the year. Share yours with us!

25. The Line Dancing Scene from “Footloose”

As a fan of the original 1984 Footloose and a skeptic of remakes, I wasn’t expecting much from the modernization of the Kevin Bacon cult classic. Thanks to Craig Brewer’s solid direction, I was pleasantly surprised with the retelling of a big city boy in a small town. Best of all, it included an important Southern tradition that was oddly missing from the original: line dancing! The scene where Ren and his friends drive to the big city will have you tapping your feet and resisting the urge to dance!

24. The Fan Camera in “Paranormal Activity 3”

The setup for the Paranormal Activity movies is so basic even a child could make these movies. Set up a camera in a fixed position and wait for scary things to happen. In the third installment of the hit franchise, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman of Catfish fame reinvented the rules and allowed the camera to move. This time around, the camera is mounted on top of a fan, giving us a bigger view of the things that go “bump” in the night. This apparatus also gives birth to some of the more heart-pounding moments in the franchise to date.

23. Colin Farrell in “Horrible Bosses”

When I set out to make this list, I knew that Horrible Bosses would find a spot here but I didn’t know for what moment. For my money, this movie was the best comedy this year. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudekis made a great comedic trio and Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey were both delightfully evil in their own way. However, it was Colin Farrell is his curiously short amount of screen time that made me laugh the most. Farrell has done comedy in movies like In Bruges before and I hope that he continues to do more roles like this.

22. The Climax to “Crazy Stupid Love”

The moment in Crazy, Stupid, Love where all the plot lines intersect is staged so well. I personally didn’t see the twist coming, but even if I had the comedy in the scene is executed so well by the actors that it is impossible not to enjoy the scene.

21. Tom Hiddleson in “Thor”

Tom Hiddleson was a relatively unknown actor until his big burst onto the scene this year, starring in three of the year’s biggest movies. He had some small parts in War Horse  and Midnight in Paris, but it was his role as the villainous Loki in Thor that caught everyone’s attention. Loki isn’t just someone who wants to take over the world and rule. He is the God of Mischief, the man with a plan, an outcast looking to find his place and fulfill his longing for acceptance. Hiddleson’s striking screen presence and pitch-perfect performance made Loki the most compelling, three-dimensional Marvel villain since Doc Ock.

20. The Soundtrack in “Hanna”

The soundtrack to Hanna is this year’s TRON: Legacy. The movie is a thoroughly entertaining experience that wouldn’t be as effective without its original. It’s the best soundtrack of the year, and makes the high-octane action sequences exponentially more entertaining. In fact, I’m listening to it now. And it’s making everything I do epic.

19.  Hugh Jackman’s Cameo in “X-Men: First Class”

Did they just use the f-word in a PG-13 comic book movie? Classic.

18. Ending to “Melancholia” 

The ending to Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic drama is one of the most masterfully executed and unforgettable endings I have ever seen. We know from the opening prologue to the film that the world will indeed end. Even so, the closing moments of the film where the planet Melancholia collides with Earth are incredibly moving. It rendered me speechless.

17. Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

In a movie with an unlikable protagonist and a story that is extremely manipulative, one aspect of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close stood out and almost made the film worth sitting through. Veteran actor Max von Sydow delivers a flawless performance as  The Renter, a man who does not speak and communicates instead through handwritten notes. It is hard to make such a character convincing, but Sydow makes it seem effortless, earning him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

16. Sacha Baron Cohen in “Hugo”

There are many things to love about Hugo, from its love letter to silent film to its art direction to its spectacular use of 3D. It was hard to just pick one, but I settled on Sacha Baron Cohen. A marvelous character actor, Cohen throws himself into the role of the Station Inspector, a man who takes his job extremely seriously. He damaged his leg in the war and considers himself better off alone, except of course for his trusty Doberman Pincer. It’s his best performance. Second only to Borat, of course.

15. The Ending to “War Horse”

There’s so much going in the emotional closing moments of War Horse, and all without a single line of dialogue. Set to John Williams fabulous score, this ending is pure Spielberg magic.

14. The Tracking Shot in “The Adventures of Tintin”

Speaking of Spielberg magic, The Adventures of Tintin has been a pet project of the prolific director since 1983. The movie consists of one great action sequence followed immediately by another. The most memorable scene in the film is a three-minute chase scene all done in one take where Captain Haddock and Tintin race through the streets of a village to catch the next clue on their path to buried treasure. It’s a wonder to behold and left me with my mouth agape.

13. The Ending to “Fast Five”

It was a good year for action films, and Fast Five was one of the big ones. Easily the best of the franchise, the film gets rid of the racing aspect that made the previous films a drag and turned it into a heist movie. The final action scene is so far-fetched you can’t help but love it. The climax of the film has the characters breaking into a police station and stealing a vault using their cars, dragging it through the city with police in pursuit. Blockbuster movie-making at its finest.

12. “Life’s A Happy Song” – “The Muppets”

I love a good dance number, and the opening to The Muppets put a smile on may face that stayed there for the rest of the film.

11. “The Case” – Super 8

There were a healthy handful of movies this year that celebrated the magic of film, but the way that Super 8 did so was so wonderful. On the surface, the film is a simple alien movie. A heavy subplot of the film, though, is a group of kids filming a zombie movie. Throughout the film, we watch with joy as the children film their low-budget zombie movie. The best part? Getting to see the completed work at the end of the movie.

10. Minny’s Pie – “The Help”

If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’re really missing out.

9. The Championship Fight – “Warrior”

Two estranged brothers fight each other for the MMA championship, unleashing all the anger they have. In the end they reconcile, and in tearful embraces exit the ring in an incredibly moving sequence set to “About Today” by The National. So good.

8. Michael Fassbender in “Shame”

In one of the most talked about performances of the year, Michael Fassbender proves himself a force to be reckoned with. In Steve McQueen’s Shame, he plays a man unable to connect with anyone on an emotional level. His addiction is sex. He is more often than not silent and introverted. However, his face and mannerisms tell us what he is really thinking. It is without a doubt the best performance of 2011.

7. The Opening to “Drive”

In suspenseful opening scenes to Drive, we watch as Ryan Gosling carefully calculates his every move, evading cops, parking his car, walking away without getting caught. There’s no fast editing here, no explosions, no heart-pounding music. It’s nothing like we saw in Fast Five, and yet its still one of the best chase sequences ever filmed.

6. The Origin of the Universe  – “The Tree of Life”

In what has to be the most analyzed and discussed film of the year, director Terence Malick examines life from its origins to the day we die and searches for the meaning of it all. The most memorable scene of the film ponders the origin of the universe, from the first rays of light all the way to the dinosaurs. It is a jaw-dropping sequence that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. This movie will stay with me forever.

5. Scott Hatteberg Hits a Home Run – “Moneyball”

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

4. The Pool Scene – “The Descendants”

What would you do if you found out your mother was going to die? The most memorable moment in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants is, like many other moments on this list, dialogue-free. Upon learning her mother’s fate, Alexandra (played to perfection by Shailene Woodley) dives under the water of her pool. The camera follows her as she cries under the water, and we feel her pain. It’s a wonderfully executed sequence.

3. The Burz Khalifa Sequence – “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”

If there was ever a definitive reason to see a movie in IMAX, this is it. The latest Mission: Impossible installment is easily the best of the series. Under solid direction by Brad Bird, the film gives us back-to-back memorable action sequences. The most talked about one is, of course, the Burz Khalifa sequence. Doing his own stunt work, Tom Cruise scales the tallest building in the world and leaps from window to window. It’s the best action sequence of the year, and the IMAX footage puts you right there next to Ethan Hunt.

2. Adam’s Surgery – 50/50

The reason that 50/50 is so effective on an emotional level is that you don’t expect it to hit you so hard. The moment where Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) realizes that he might not wake up from his surgery is so emotional and moving it turns you into a teary-eyed mess. 50/50 is by far one of the best films of the year, a triumph on every level. It’s a crime this film didn’t get more recognition this awards season.

1. The Battle for Hogwarts – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

After ten years of waiting it finally happened. Bellatrix and Mrs. Weasley. Voldemort versus Potter. Neville versus Nagini. Sacrifices made and lives lost. The Battle for Hogwarts was brought to the screen so well. This die-hard Potter fanatic couldn’t have asked for more.

Golden Globes Predictions

 

For better or worse, Ricky Gervais returns tomorrow evening to host the 2012 Golden Globes Awards. The night is bound to have memorable moments as well as some painful ones. Remember Brendan Gleeson last year? Or that awkward moment during Natalie Portman’s speech? Then again, how could you forget when Jim Carrey won for The Truman Show? Or when Martin Scorsese accepeted the Cecil B. DeMille Award?

You can find a full list of nominations here, but we’ll only be focusing on the Film-centric awards due to the fact that we’re not as well-versed in the television nominations. Let us know who you think will win!

DANIEL’S PICKS

Drama: The Descendants
Actress (Drama): 
Viola Davis
Actor (Drama): 
George Clooney
Comedy/Musical:
The Artist
Actress (Comedy/ Musical): 
Kristin Wiig
Actor (Comedy/Musical): 
Jean Dujardin
Animated Feature: 
The Adventures of Tintin
Foreign Film: 
A Seperation
Supporting Actress: 
Octavia Spencer
Supporting Actor: 
Christopher Plummer
Director: 
Michel Hazanavicius
Screenplay: 
Midnight in Pairs
Original Score: 
The Artist
Original Song: 
“The Living Proof”

JOSEPH’S PICKS

Drama: The Help
Actress (Drama): 
Viola Davis
Actor (Drama): 
George Clooney
Comedy/Musical
The Artist
Actress (Comedy/ Musical): 
Michelle Williams
Actor (Comedy/Musical): 
Jean Dujardin
Animated Feature: 
The Adventures of Tintin
Foreign Film: 
A Separation
Supporting Actress: 
Octavia Spencer
Supporting Actor: 
Christopher Plummer
Director: 
Michel Hazanavicius
Screenplay: 
Moneyball
Original Score: 
The Artist
Original Song: 
“Lay Your Head Down”

Top 5 Steven Spielberg Films

This was without question the hardest list Joseph and I have ever had to assemble. Steven Spielberg is truly a man that needs no introduction, having directed countless films that have implanted themselves deep into our culture. Almost every one of his films are iconic in one way or another.

With War Horse and The Adventures of TinTin in theaters, we take a look back at what Spielberg films we love the most. Naturally, your lists will be different. Please feel free to share!

 

DANIEL’S FAVORITES

5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

 What a film. Everything about this movie draws me in, from Richard Dreyfuss’s performance to John Williams’s entrancing soundtrack. It’s a unique film that like all other Spielberg’s films captures not only our imaginations but our hearts as well.

4. E.T. 

The first time I saw this movie as a child, I bawled my eyes out when I thought E.T. was dead. It was the first time I had ever cried in a movie, but it wouldn’t be the last. Spielberg’s follow-up to E.T. has a contagious feeling of magic. You come to love E.T. just like the children do. It is a wonderful adventure for any age.

3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

I appreciate that Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first film to feature Indiana Jones. I applaud that it the most financially successful and critically acclaimed of all the Jones adventures. However, in terms of sheer entertainment, I’d take Last Crusade any day of the week. The introduction of Sean Connery into the franchise as Indy’s father provides for one of the most unexpectedly delightful partnerships to ever grace the silver screen. It’s a great ride.

2. Jaws

The first summer blockbuster and model for those to come, Jaws is pure entertainment. It’s still just as suspenseful for me today as it was back when I saw the film for the first time. The performances by Roy Schneider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss are top-knotch, and John Williams’s immortal score is the icing on the cake. A true masterpiece.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Easily one of my favorite war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan holds a special place in my heart. It was probably the first R-rated movie I ever watched as a child, during a time where we would dress up in camo and play war in the backyard. As I’v grown older in years, the movie  effects me in a different way. Tom Hanks gives a heck of a performance, as does the rest of a magnificent ensemble cast. My love for this movie grows over the years, and will continue to do so. It is at times a hard movie to stomach, but remains for me an incredibly moving experience.

 

JOSEPH’S FAVORITES

5. Munich


My wife won’t be pleased that Jurassic Park isn’t on this list (and almost made it), but she hasn’t seen Munich yet. With a running time close to three hours, it’s a hard film to get through, but is definitely worth the effort. The performances were good, especially from Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds. It’s a large story that will keep you thinking after the credits roll.

4. Catch Me if You Can


My first interaction with Frank Abagnale’s story was reading about it in the newspaper; it just begged to be made into a feature-length film. Like most films in the genre, it treads a fine line between who the audience should root for. Do we want Frank to succeed in his pursuits, or do we want Carl to catch up with him? Spielberg succeeds in presenting the glamor, while at the same time undercutting it with harsher realities and consequences for Frank’s actions.

3. Schindler’s List


I watched Schindler’s List for the first time this year. It quickly became one of my favorite Spielberg films, and also one that I will probably not be watching again any time soon. It’s a great, exhausting film, with wonderful performances from Neeson and Fiennes. The quasi-documentary style and the black-and-white imagery really capture the emotion of the people and the landscape.

2. E.T. (The Extra Terrestrial)


The last time I watched E.T. was on an old VHS tape that had horrible lines running through it and a nasty green tint. It was still incredible to watch. I really appreciate the balance between childhood and the process of growing up in this film. The images continue to take my breath away, and John William’s score (as always) is a perfect complement to the film.

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade


As much as I love Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is the Indiana Jones adventure that sticks with me the most. Sean Connery is brilliantly cast in a role that doesn’t seem like it would fit in his filmography, but does. Spielberg knows how to film action scenes, and this film is no exception. (I have chosen wisely)