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.

Short Spotlight: Sockfeet

My appreciation for short films began when I first attended the Nashville Film Festival. Blown away by the wide range in content and talent, I immediately went to the Internet to find more short films. Modern short films are a fascinating genre, ranging from no budget backyard productions, to low budget indie films, to full-blown blockbusters. Short films are a great way to glimpse future talent, or a window into the origins of a respected director. The goal of this series is to showcase a wide range of short films from all over the world. If you want to have a short film featured, please comment and leave a link. Enjoy the show!

The first film in this series comes from my Alma mater, Bryan College. It’s a short, sweet love story told from a unique perspective.

 

Weekend Warrior: The Apes Change It Up

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Written by: Rick Jaffa / Amanda Silver
Starring: James Franco / Andy Serkis / Freida Pinto

The Consensus: Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Meta Critic: N/A

Negative Take:

I realise that action movies aren’t meant to be realistic but these characters needed to be far more interesting and believable if they were going to draw me in.

Matthew Toomey (The Film Pie)

Positive Take:

Audacious, violent and disquieting, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a summer sequel that’s better than it has any right to be. This movie about how the apes rose up against the humans who would trap them, cage them and use them in medical experiments is a stunning job of back-engineering the familiar “Planet of the Apes” story and another leap forward in performance capture animation.

Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)

The Change-Up
Directed by: David Dobkin
Written by: Jon Lucas / Scott Moore
Starring: Jason Bateman / Ryan Reynolds / Olivia Wilde / Leslie Mann

The Consensus: Rotten Tomatoes: 35% Meta Critic: 49

Negative Take:

While the reliable Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman wring some laughs from a creaky but durable setup, playing polar-opposite buddies who find themselves by stepping outside themselves, the script takes R-rated gross-out humor to such forced extremes that its later bid for sentimental sweetness feels disingenuous and unearned.

Justin Chang (Variety)

Positive Take:

The idea’s old as the hills — wisdom won by literally walking in someone else’s shoes — and often the gross-out humor in “The Change Up” seems designed specifically for adolescents. But for the love of Peter Pan, stifle your inner censor and give this half-smart, deliciously transgressive mess of a movie a chance.

Kat Murphy (MSN Movies)

Let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Howl

Howl
Directed by: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Written by: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: James Franco / David Strathairn / Jon Hamm

Written and directed by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Howl is a special kind of movie that espouses different filmic styles. The first ten minutes of the film set up the groundwork for the rest of the story, opening on a black-and-white scene where Allen Ginsberg (James Franco) reads the opening lines from the nominal poem in a dusky building to a rapt audience of his peers. After the line “floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz” we transition to kinetic, jazzy opening credits.

We then cut to an interview with Allen Ginsberg, this time in color, followed by the court case regarding the obscenity in his poetry in 1957. After that we jump back two years to a black-and-white Ginsberg intently typing on a typewriter, which transitions into another animated sequence, where his letters become musical notes. The opening lines of the poem are again heard, this time accompanied by an animated sequence inspired by graphic artist Eric Drooker, which attempts to bring Ginsberg’s poetry to life.

This combination of documentary, narrative, and animated styles work well as individual pieces, but are inharmonious as a whole. Epstein and Freiedman excel in their documentary look, for sure, but also during the court case. While a considerable amount of time is focused on Allen Ginsberg’s life as it pertains to his writing, Howl is not a biopic. It’s more focused on the poem itself, and the censoring of art, which it is most known for. The court case, which is at the heart of the story, is a great example of the director’s ability to make the mundane intriguing, especially with the back-and-forth between David Strathairn (Prosecution) and Jon Hamm (Defense).

During the court case, many literary critics are brought to the stand and questioned about the literary qualities of Howl, and it’s staying effect. When one critic is asked by Strathairn, “Do you understand what ‘angel-headed hipsters yearning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night’ means?”, he replies with a brilliant line: “Sir, you can’t translate poetry into prose. That’s why it is poetry.” Coupled with the animated sequences used throughout the film, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of this interaction.

The animation is well done, but doesn’t belong in a film about poetry, especially one that is defended in court in this manner. James Franco’s performance as Allen Ginsberg is incredible in the way he delivers the lines from Howl. There is an energy and excitement behind every word. I love the scene near the end of the film where Ginsberg reads the “I’m with you in Rockland” portion from Howl. Franco’s reading is emotionally sparked, and is one of the finest scenes in the film. The animated sequence of this reading that was shown earlier doesn’t carry the same weight. The viewer is shown images rather than getting caught up in the rhythm, the words, and the performance. As Ginsberg says during his interview, “Poetry is a rhythmic articulation of feeling.”

It’s a feeling that begins in the pit of the stomach and rises up through the breast, and out the mouth, and…and it comes forth as a croon or a groan or a sign. So you try to put words to that by looking around you and trying to describe that’s making you sigh, to sigh in a way, you simply articulate what you feel.

Allen Ginsberg

Weekend Warrior: Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe / Emma Watson / Rupert Grint

The Consensus: The last Harry Potter film has been racking up the positive reviews this week. It currently has a very fresh 96% score at Rotten Tomatoes, and a 90 at Meta Critic. I’ve been a fan ever since watching Chamber of Secrets in an airplane and eagerly devouring the first four books in short order. I got my wand at Hot Topic, my Gryffindor tie just arrived from Amazon, and I’m ready for the midnight premiere. (Yes, my wife and I are brewing butterbeer that night) I’ve never been in costume at a movie before, but I’ve grown attached to the Harry Potter characters/cast, and it seems a fitting way to join them one last time.

Negative Take: N/A (from top critics) at this point.

Positive Take:

It ends well. After eight films in 10 years and a cumulative global box-office take of more than $6.3 billion, the most successful franchise in the history of movies comes to an obligatory — and quite satisfying — conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Fully justifying the decision, once thought purely mercenary, of splitting J.K. Rowling‘s final book into two parts, this is an exciting and, to put it mildly, massively eventful finale that will grip and greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to now. If ever there was a sure thing commercially, this stout farewell is it.

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

Winnie the Pooh
Directed by: Stephen J. Anderson / Don Hall
Written by: Stephen J. Anderson / Don Hall / Clio Chiang / Don Dougherty / Brian Kesinger / Nicole Mitchell / Jeremy Spears
Starring: Jim Cummings / Craig Ferguson / John Cleese

The Consensus: I’ve been a fan of the older Winnie the Pooh films, which the latest iteration seems to take visual inspiration from, watching them on well-worn VHS tapes time and time again. I’ve seen moments of the attempted revivals of the classic characters, including the hideous CGI television series. This version looks to be a fun, nostalgic romp with old friends in the 100 Acred Woods. Rotten Tomatoes agrees with a 77% score, and a similar score of 72 from Meta Critic. With the Harry Potter behemoth breathing down it’s neck, I hope Winnie the Pooh does well at the box office.

Negative Take: N/A (from top critics) at this point.

Positive Take:

So definitive are the soft, simple, pastel evocations of the English countryside in E.H. Shepard’s original Pooh illustrations that revisionist versions would be unthinkable. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall (director and a writer, respectively, on Meet the Robinsons) do nothing to rock the boat, delivering rich, beautifully rendered visual backdrops for the mild antics of the familiar characters.

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)

Let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

TOP 5: Comedies

DANIEL’S FAVORITES

5. Superbad


This movie is a guilty pleasure for me. You either like this movie or you don’t. If you’ve seen this movie and like it, then you know what I mean. The characters are surprisingly endearing, and the movie is so much fun to quote. Yes, the objectionable content is through the roof, but so are the laughs. The movie follows three seniors in their last days of high school as they strive to fit in and take one last stab at winning the girl of their dreams. The resulting escapades amount to the best Judd Apatow film to date. If you don’t like this kind of humor, stay as far away from this movie as possible.

Evan: Stay calm, okay? Let’s not lose our heads. It’s… it’s a fine ID; it’ll… it’s gonna work. It’s passable, okay? This isn’t terrible. I mean, it’s up to you, Fogell. This guy is either gonna think ‘Here’s another kid with a fake ID’ or ‘Here’s McLovin, a 25 year-old Hawaiian organ donor’. Okay? So what’s it gonna be?
Fogell: I am Mclovin!

4. Liar Liar


Jim Carrey is the master of modern physical comedy,  and Liar Liar is the best example why. The movie essentially relies on one joke: when his son’s birthday wish comes true, a workaholic lawyer is unable to lie for 24 hours. Nevertheless, hilarity abounds from beginning to end, all thanks to the endless amount of energy Carrey brings to his role. Take, for example, the scene where Carrey tries to tell the prosecuting attorney his made up defense. Carrey’s facial contortions, muscular strains, and overwhelming frustration make us believe it is truly physically impossible for him to lie. The film was directed by Tom Shadyac, who also directed Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty. In this author’s humble opinion, this is Carrey at the top of his game.

Cop: You know why I pulled you over?
Fletcher: Depends on how long you were following me!
Cop: Why don’t we just take it from the top?
Fletcher: Here goes: I sped. I followed too closely. I ran a stop sign. I almost hit a Chevy. I sped some more. I failed to yield at a crosswalk. I changed lanes at the intersection. I changed lanes without signaling while running a red light and SPEEDING!
Cop: Is that all?
Fletcher: No… I have unpaid parking tickets.

3. In Bruges

When a hitman botches a job and kills an innocent bystanding child, he must flee with his partner in crime to Bruges, the well-preserved medieval city in all of Belgium.  Comedy gold, right? In Bruges is a perfect example of a film that falls into more than one genre. It is a perfect of raw human emotion and side-splitting comedy. Colin Farrell gives his best performance as Ray, a man stricken with grief after murdering a child, but acts like a child himself. He’s in one of the most beautiful cities in all the world, but all he can do is pout and complain about being stuck in a boring city with his stoic friend Ken, played by the always-wonderful Brendan Gleeson. The movie also stars Ralph Fiennes as an eccentric mob boss. There isn’t a dull moment in the entire film, and I recommend it to any film lover.

Ray: A lot of midgets tend to kill themselves. A disproportionate amount, actually.

2. Bringing Up Baby

Comedic gold. Directed by Howard Hawks, this movie features Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn at their best. The movie follows the two as they struggle to take care of a leopard in Connecticut. Hilarity ensues.

David: The man who marries you is going to have a lifetime of misery!

1. The Big Lebowski

Only in a Coen Brothers comedy could a stoner, eccentric Vietnam war veteran, a group of nihilists, a feminist, and a billionaire with a trophy wife cross paths and give birth to one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. This movie, which features my personal favorite performance by Jeff Bridges, has so many great lines and is suprisingly multi-layered. It may take two or three viewings to get its humor, but that’s only because there’s no other movie like it. The Dude abides.

Dude: Let me explain something to you. I’m not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m The Dude. So that’s what you call me.


JOSEPH’S FAVORITES

5. A Fish Called Wanda

 

With a few more viewings, I can see this moving up a slot or two in the coming years. It’s a hilarious crime comedy with A-game performances from Kline (who won an Oscar for his role), Cleese (who wrote the movie), Curtis, and Palin. A Fish Called Wanda is funny, smart, and has one of my favorite parallel montages put to film.

Ken: Otto t-t-tried to k-k-kiss me.
Wanda: I thought he might.

4. The Apartment


The Apartment is border-line comedy to be sure, but it deserves to be in the genre. Written and directed by Billy Wilder, The Apartment is proof that you don’t have to write comedies and dramas separate from each other. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine play opposite each other perfectly, and Fred MacMurray again plays the ‘villain’ for Wilder.

Margie: ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all throughout he house, not a creature was stirring…nothing’…no action…dullsville!

3. Duck Soup

 

A comedy list of mine would be incomplete without the Marx Brothers. The machine gun zingers from Groucho, the unrelenting puns, and the slapstick duo of Harpo and Chico make this a must-see.

Rufus: I got a mind to join a lib and beat you over the head with it.

2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

 

There’s a goldmine of comedy across the pond, and a lot of it comes from the messed up minds of the Monty Python troupe. Holy Grail should have an award for memorable quotes by people who haven’t even seen the movie. It’s totally absurd, episodic, and joyfully scales the fourth wall. Llamas.

Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
Peasant: Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant:  … I got better.

1. Raising Arizona

 

This is a movie that I instantly fell in love with. The Coen Brothers know how to write an engaging, humorous story, and have a knack for surrounding themselves with just the right talent for their characters. This is my favorite performance by Nicholas Cage, who should return to more comedic roles in the future.

Evelle: These [balloons] blow up into funny shapes and all?
Grocer: Well no…unless round is funny.

TOP 5: Comic Book Movies

This summer has to hold some sort of record for most comic book movies released during the summer. Thor, Priest, Captain America, Green Lantern, X-Men; First Class, Cowboys and Aliens … This summer is jam-packed with comic book action. With the release of Thor this past Friday, we thought we’d list our top comic book movies of all time.

 

DANIEL’S FAVORITES

5. SIN CITY

At the time of its release, Robert Rodriguez’s approach to making a comic book movie (filming it entirely in front of a green screen) was a novelty. Sure, Lucas had created some of his planets on green screen and what-not, but an entire movie? Those of you who have seen the movie know that it recreates the style of Frank Miller’s comic frame by frame. The style is enchanting, the cast is superb, and it’s different fare from your typical “good guy fights bad guy” comic book movie.

4. IRON MAN

With his performance as Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. resurrected his career. Iron Man has great humor, exciting action sequences, and a bald Jeff Bridges, but makes this top five list because it values characterization over spectacle. Sadly, there was a shift in values in last year’s sequel, where pointless action sequences were given more time than focusing on Tony Stark’s character. Here’s hoping the third installment fixes that mistake.

3. X-MEN 2

Let’s face it. The only reason X-Men is so popular is because of Wolverine. By placing Wolverine center stage in ‘X2,” Bryan Singer couldn’t have done any better. Except if he had directed X-Men 3, of course.

2. SPIDER-MAN 2

Before The Dark Knight investigated the toll that being a superhero has on one’s own life, Spider-Man 2 showed us how hard it is to balance one’s own life and be a superhero at the same time. Doctor Otto Octavian is hands down the best Spider-Man villain, the film has awesome sequences, and the human drama that permeates this film make me return to this swingin’ good time again and again.

1. THE DARK KNIGHT

You knew this was gonna be number one. What can I say that everyone else hasn’t already said? Nolan flipped a freakin’ semitruck! One of the greatest performances of all time. An ending that still gives me chills. Hands down the greatest comic book movie of all time.

RUNNERS UP:

Superman: The Movie (Because even DC has the occasional awesome superhero)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright is going places)

The Watchmen (The opening credit sequence alone is enough to make this movie a classic)

 

JOSEPH’S FAVORITES

MY CRITERIA: I have to have seen all movies listed. Only one film per franchise can be included. There must be honorable mentions (because I’m a cheat).

5. MYSTERY MEN

Mystery Men is a “there are two kinds of people in the world” kind of movie, and one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Geoffrey Rush is insane as the villainous Casanova Frankenstein, there are fun performances from Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, and yes, Paul Reubens. It’s instantly quotable (“Looks like tonight the lone wolf rides…alone”) and has great re-watchability. Grab a favorite beverage and enjoy this skewed, slapstick take on the superhero genre.

4. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE

Superman: The Movie is right up there with apple pie. Christopher Reeve gives a fun dual-role performance as Clark Kent and his superhero alter-ego Superman, Gene Hackman steals the show as Lex Luthor, the special effects are awesome, and John William’s score is classic. Some parts don’t work as well for me, like the bumbling Ned Beatty (a tad overacted), and the Lois Lane voiceover. But Superman: The Movie remains a classic superhero film where the hero saves the day and has been a favorite of mine since first watching it many years ago.

3. SPIDER-MAN

Reservations about Spider-Man 3 aside, I really enjoyed Sam Raimi’s take on the Spider-Man tale. The stories complement each-other nicely, without relying too heavily on the previous films. The casting is great, especially J.K. Simmons’ as newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson, chomping through cigars and scenes with ease.

2. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

When I first heard about this film (Michael Cera fights ex-boyfriends?) I wasn’t sure how it would play out, having never heard of the graphic novels. But the preview sold me, and off I went. Having now read the graphic novels, I can say that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a loving adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series (he also helped in the writing process for the movie, which is pretty cool). Scott Pilgrim also has a talented cast, employing the likes of Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin; they are great in their roles, bringing the right dose of emotion and apathy to their characters.  Technically, the film is fantastic. The fluid editing (including a mini parody of the style) and special effects complement each other well, combining filmmaking and graphic novel styles; it’s this collaboration that results in the world of Scott Pilgrim that we see on screen.

1. THE DARK KNIGHT

Heath Ledger as Joker. Batman flipping a freaking semi. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. If anyone knows how to make a successful blockbuster, it’s Christopher Nolan. The talent, music, practical effects, and an impressive on-going story are pitch perfect, creating an epically gritty superhero series that will be hard to beat. I can’t wait to see how it all comes around with The Dark Knight Rises, the final act.

RUNNERS UP:

The Rocketeer (For being epically camp)

American Splendor (For being normal)

Hulk (…because I’m one of the few that love it)