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.

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.

Joseph’s Most Anticipated Films of 2012

As much as I would like to post my top 10 films of 2011, that list would have recently featured Crazy, Stupid Love, which is indicative of how many 2011 films I need to catch up on. But that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to 2012…

 10. Coogan’s Trade

 

I’m not familiar with the material, but any film that puts Brad Pitt and Richard Jenkins on-screen together is a film that I want to see. It’s also written/directed by Andrew Dominik, who previously directed Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

9. Looper

Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) writes/directs a film about time-travel starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. If that isn’t enough to get you on board for this film, Collider reports that Shane Caruth worked alongside Johnson on the time-travel mechanics. Caruth wrote/directed the small-budget 2004 film Primer, which is one of the best time-travel films out there; watch it.

8. Untitled Terrence Malick Project

I would watch a Terrence Malick film about paint drying. Watching Ben Affleck act is a close second. Known on IMDb as “Untitled Terrence Malick Project”, this film stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in,  “A romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.” I may have my doubts on the casting, but Terrence Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki know how to make  a beautiful film together.

7. Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis leads an impressive cast in Steven Spielberg’s film about Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Lewis is joined by Sally Fields (Mary Lincoln), Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Robert Lincoln), David Strathairn, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, and Michael Stuhlbarg. 2013 Oscars, anyone?

6. Django Unchained

The above image says it all.

5. The Avengers


I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since Samuel Jackson’s first appearance at the end of Iron Man. (My poor wife is now tired of my “Where’s Samuel Jackson?” joke after every movie we watch in the theater. But let’s be honest; Kirsten Wiig and Tintin would be awesome Avengers.) With Joss “Can I kill off a main character?” Whedon at the helm, I think this is going to be a fun, bantering, character-driven superhero film.

4. The Master


Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix star in P.T. Anderson’s latest film about, “The relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man”, set in the 1950s. (IMDb) I’ve been hearing about this film for a while now, and am really excited about it. I’m not sure if it will be released in 2012 or 2013, so don’t hesitate to correct me on this. If it’s a 2013 release, maybe Tom Tywker’s Cloud Atlas will be placed at number ten.

3. Brave


Brave is the latest film from Pixar Animation Studios, and it looks incredible. I have my doubts from watching the preview for the film, but I’ve learned over the years that Pixar trailers tend to undersell their films. I like that it’s an original fairy tale, and that they’ve casted Emma Thompson as the Queen.

2. The Hobbit


I’ve been wanting to see this film (live-action, mind you…) since I first read the book. And while I’m a fan of Peter Jackson and his version of Lord of the Rings, I was really excited about Guilermo del Toro directing it. I’m curious if any of his vision will make it into the final film. On a technical level, The Hobbit is being filmed in 3-D at 48 frames-per-second, twice what films are normally filmed at; I’m excited to see how it ends up looking.

1. The Dark Knight Rises


Choosing The Dark Knight Rises over The Hobbit was a tough decision. I ended up with Christopher Nolan’s latest (lastest) in the series because it’s not a story that I’m familiar with, having not ready many comic books. (Although if I had to pick my favorite trailer of the year, it would be The Hobbit). The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises succeeds in selling the film while not spelling out what it’s about. I think a trip to the Whitaker Center IMAX in Harrisburg might be in order for this one.

Honorable Mentions: Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project, Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom, Dark Shadows, The Cabin in the Woods

What films are YOU looking forward to the most this year?

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)

Top 10 Movie Posters of 2010

One of the elements of the movie-going experience that I have been appreciating more over the last few years is the marketing of the movies. Social media, previews, and posters, are the first three sources of buzz and interest that come to mind.

On the social media side of things we see content being released online, viral campaigns being released, and conversations started about the movie. Arguably the most influential piece of advertising are the previews, which have to package the movie in a few short minutes.

The final element is the movie posters, which like the previews, have to grab the potential viewer’s attention and get them interested in the movie. Where previews have a few minutes to sell the movie, the poster has only one image. The following are my top 10 favorite movie posters from 2010.

(WARNING: large images)

Our Favorite Films of 2010

I can’t speak for Joseph, but to me 2010 was the year of the passion projects. Christopher Nolan started writing Inception ten years ago while filming Memento. Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman started discussing Black Swan in 2000, and Mark Wahlberg set out to faithfully tell the story of Micky Ward in The Fighter back in 2005. Other passion projects this year include Blue Valentine and The Kids Are Alright. It was a great year for film.

There were so many great films released this year. Sadly, we were not able to see them all. But for now, Cinexcellence proudly presents our favorite films of 2010.

DANIEL’S FAVORITES

10. CATFISH

This fascinating, one-of-a-kind film is almost like a companion piece to The Social Network. Where David Fincher’s film briefly mentions some of the effects that Facebook has had on society, Catfish examines social networking under the microscope. We are given a group of friends who believe that the person they befriended on Facebook is exactly who they say they are. A fascinating examination of society’s dependence on social networking and the harms it has on those involved, Catfish has been accused of blurring the line between dramatized events and reality. Given the themes it examines throughout the course of the film, should this come as a surprise?

9. 127 HOURS

James Franco’s performance as Aron Ralston has stayed with me since I saw 127 Hours this last November. If Colin Firth wasn’t a sure-fire winner for Oscar gold, I’d have my money on Franco. We are immediately drawn to Ralston’s character not because of how he is written, but because Franco brings him to life so convincingly. Coupled with Danny Boyle’s direction, 127 Hours is a moving story that is very much worth the watch. Put it on your Netflix queue ASAP.

8. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

When’s the last time you heard the “Legend of Zelda” theme in a live action movie? Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film unlike any other this year. Debuting at number 5 with a measly $10.6 million, Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was one of the biggest flops of the year. It was also one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. Michael Cera was born to play Scott Pilgrim, an awkward bass player who falls in love with a girl named Ramona Flowers. There’s just one catch: in order to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil exes. Full of humor, an upbeat soundtrack, and endless video game references, it’s the most undeserving flop of the year.

7. THE KING’S SPEECH

Colin Firth gives a performance destined to win an Oscar in Tom Hooper’s period drama. Firth plays King George VI, a speech-impaired man forced to wear the crown after his older brother Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates the throne. He seeks help from Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an out of work actor who makes his living as a speech therapist. The King’s Speech tells the story of a man who must overcome personal and political obstacles to lead a country during World War II. Inspirational, fascinating, and moving, The King’s Speech doesn’t reach any new cinematic heights, but it’s a wonderful film that will make your heart soar.

6. THE FIGHTER

Mark Wahlberg’s passion project for the last five years, The Fighter is an inspirational journey featuring magnificent performances from all involved. David O. Russel’s first film since 2004’s “I Heart Huckabees” tells the story of Micky Ward, a man who overcomes his family troubles in order to become a boxing champ. The story is pretty cut and dry; we’ve seen it a million times over. What makes The Fighter such a success is the focus on the characters. Bale turns in his best performance yet, and I expect to see him on stage come Oscar night.

5. TRUE GRIT

The most successful Western since Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit is a significant departure from their previous outings like Fargo and No Country for Old Men.  Regardless, the Coen’s adaptation of the Charles Portis novel is one of the best of the year. Every aspect of the movie is given proper attention. With a star-making performance by newcomer Hailee Stanfield and spot-on performances by A-list actors Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, True Grit is one of the best Westerns in recent memory. While I appreciate what the Coens are trying to say with their ending, I feel that it would have been more effective if they had led up to it better.

4. TOY STORY 3

Only Pixar could make you feel such love for toys that don’t even belong to you. The highest grossing film of the year, Toy Story 3 is a wonderful testament to childhood and the journey to adulthood. No matter how old you are, this movie is one to be enjoyed again and again. Still wanting more of Buzz and Woody? Pixar has said that there will be an animated short in front of Cars 2 this summer that updates us on how our favorite toys are doing.

3. SHUTTER ISLAND

Though it has its flaws, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel is a wonderful exercise in style and a thoroughly engaging adventure from beginning to end. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio at the top of his game, Shutter Island is rife with suspense, filled to the brim with heart-wrenching emotion, and a wonderful testament to my favorite director’s love for film.

2. INCEPTION

The most discussed ending of the year. All I have to say is this: if the whole film is really a dream, why would Nolan spend 2.5 hours creating such an elaborately designed world? This deeply layered film is not to be missed. Featuring a show-stopping score by Hans Zimmer, arresting visuals, and Nolan’s best work to date, “Inception” is a film that will continue to visit my DVD player again and again. Nolan hasn’t made a flop yet, and I eagerly await to see what he does with next summer’s The Dark Knight Rises.

1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK

“Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?”

“No.”

“Do you think I deserve it?”

“What?”

“Do you think I deserve your full attention?”

“I had to swear an oath before I began this deposition and I don’t want to perjure myself, so I have a legal obligation to say no.”

“Okay, no. You don’t think I deserve your attention.”

“I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

Enough said.

RUNNERS UP:

Black Swan (Aronofsky’s best is still The Wrestler, but this riveting picture of an artist’s extreme dedication to her craft is not to be missed)

The Kids Are All Right (One of the best scripts of the year with impeccable performances)

Ghost Writer (An engrossing tale of political intrigue, The Ghost Writer is Roman Polanski’s best work since Chinatown)

JOSEPH’S FAVORITES

10. BLACK SWAN

While I felt like I had seen the premise two years prior (The Wrestler), Black Swan is Natalie Portman’s tour de force as ballet dancer Nina Sayers. Aronofsky may have directed it, but it’s her film through and through.

9. INCEPTION

Inception is a wonderful action/adventure/heist/drama all rolled into one slick package, expertly written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The exposition is handed out in large portions at a time (Ellen Page, anyone?), but the story is insanely creative and unique, and the action is breathtaking.

8. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1

Part 1 of the finale to the Harry Potter series, this is a film that showcases the talent of the actors that we’ve seen maturing for years. Its pacing is slower than previous installments at times, but never dull. It does fall victim to the curse of having to keep both fans of the books and fans of JUST the movies happy, however. I eagerly await part 2 this summer.

7. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

Like Catfish (mentioned later), you really don’t want to read too much about this documentary before watching it.

6. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

What a surprise to find a movie like this billed next to Charlie St. Cloud and Dinner for Schmucks. Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right is a smart, thought-provoking independent drama that has a healthy balance of humor as well. The performances from Bening, Moore, and Ruffalo are top-notch, and I can see one of them bring home the gold in a month.

5. TRUE GRIT

I’m insanely jealous of how consistently creative Ethan and Joel Coen are. Their latest is a remake of Henry Hathaway’s True Grit, casting Jeff Bridges in the role that introduced John Wayne to the Academy Awards. The Coen’s well-written dialogue is perfectly delivered by the cast, especially by newcomer Hailee Steinfeld in her lead role as Mattie Ross.

4. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

Easily my most enjoyable movie-going experience of 2010. Edgar Wright’s visual tempo is put to good use in this graphic novel adaptation. At times reminding me of the recent Where the Wild Things Are in how the story pertains to the main character, the final twenty minutes really bring it home and tie the film together nicely.

3. TOY STORY 3

Pixar knows how to entertain kids and adults alike in their latest Toy Story film. The characters we know from 1995 have gone come a long way, and this is a rewarding end (?) to their story.

2. THE FIGHTER

My number two film is not a film I expected to be this high on my list until I saw it last week. I’ve heard people describe The Fighter as “Mark Wahlberg Wants An Oscar”, and this isn’t the case at all. His performance is purposefully reigned in and guarded, fitting the character of Micky Ward perfectly. He tries to find a balance between his triangle of influence (mother, brother, and girlfriend) and his own life, and Wahlberg strikes it home. The cinematography was beautifully done, mixing the styles of fiction, documentary, and television well.

1. THE SOCIAL NETWORK

When I first heard word that David Fincher was slated to direct a film about the creation of Facebook, I was doubtful. I’m a fan of Fincher’s work (especially the underappreciated Zodiac from 2009) and Aaron Sorkin’s screenplays for Charlie Wilson’s War and A Few Good Men, but couldn’t imagine how they could make The Social Network entertaining. Now it’s my favorite film of 2010 and a frontrunner for the Academy Awards. The marriage of writer and director is astounding, resulting in some great kinetic dialogue that, in other hands, could have been dreadfully dull. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake were perfectly cast in the film and turn in some great performances. I look forward to where their careers lead them in the future.

RUNNERS UP:

Winter’s Bone (More people need to see this film. The atmosphere, story, and talent is amazing)

Catfish (A fascinating documentary about online relationships)

Tangled (Easily a strong contender for best animated feature at the Academy Awards this year; fresh and vibrant)