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The 10 movies to look forward to in 2012

Posted in Lists, Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by judsonw

On paper, 2012 should be the most incredible year for movies of all time. Unfortunately, most of the time the most promising films turn out to be the most disappointing. Nevertheless, these are the top 10 movies of 2012 that show the most promise and the ones I’m most excited for.

10. Skyfall (November 9)

Sure, Quantum of Solace was a huge disappointment after the fantastic revival that was Casino Royale. My hopes are still high that the franchise will return to the heights of that action masterpiece. The addition of Sam Mendes as director is unusual in the best of ways.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)

My first thought when I found out they were “rebooting” the Spider-Man movie franchise with an all new director, cast and vision was “why?” The original 3 films are mostly excellent (3 has its fair share of problems) and the last film was released a mere 5 years ago in 2007. But then Mark Webb (500 Days of Summer) signed on as director, then Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy (not Mary Jane – plus!), then Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker. I have much love for Tobey McGuire and company, but I’m ready for some fresh blood in the spidey tights.

8. The Avengers (May 4)

Finally, here is what all the Marvel movies of the past 4 years have been leading up to. Ever since Samuel L. Jackson stepped into the home of Tony Stark in 2008’s Iron Man, we knew that all these movies were going to be connected in some way. A culmination of millions and millions of dollars, lots of talent and hard work, and a cast of different personalities – it’s hard to imagine director Joss Whedon letting us down.

7. Brave (June 22)

It’s hard to be too excited about the next Pixar movie after the money grab that was Cars 2, but Brave has everything Pixar needs to get back on its feet. It takes place in beautiful mythical Scotland and features the studio’s first female protagonist. Count me in.

6. Gravity (November 21)

Alfonso Cuaron. First movie since 2005’s masterpiece Children of Men. Set in space. Sandra Bullock. George Clooney. Enough said.

5. Prometheus (June 8)

With every Ridley Scott movie, I’m sucked in to thinking that it’s going to be great. It’s hard to accept the fact that the director just isn’t the same as when he made such movies as Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. What makes Prometheus so promising, however, is that it’s Scott’s welcome return to the world of sci-fi. Reportedly a “prequel at heart” to the original Alien, the script is written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and has a banging cast. Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, the original girl with the dragon tattoo Noomi Rapace, Patrick Wilson, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba. I usually try to avoid watching trailers of movies I want to see, but my curiosity got the better of me on this one. If the actual film lives up to the trailer’s astonishing visuals, then we’re in for a treat.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (December 14)

I was a little disappointed when Guillermo Del Toro dropped out of the filming as director, but the only one who could do the justice of replacing him was Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has to be one of the greatest achievements in film of all time, and I’m very excited to see how Jackson can top it (can he possibly?)

3. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

How can any movie buff not be enormously excited for Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman series? The Dark Knight  may have been the best event film of the past 10 years, so it’ll be hard to top. Tom Hardy’s Bane looks like an intriguing villain (maybe not Joker-intriguing) and the fact that essentially the same people are involved keep my expectations high.

2. The Hunger Games (March 23)

This makes me nervous. The adaptation could either be a disaster or a great cinematic achievement. The talent behind the film (Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Gary Ross) gives me hope and all the images from the production seem to be spot on. The source material is excellent – a unique and brutal story with a very strong female main character. It’ll be very hard to translate everything great about the book to the screen. Fingers crossed.

1. Django Unchained (December 25)

If a new Quentin Tarantino film is being released, it automatically goes to the top of my most anticipated list. Tarantino proved he could do no wrong in another time period with Inglourious Basterds’ WWII setting. Now he goes even deeper in the past – Mississippi slave time. The plot is about a slave-turned-bounty hunter, with the help of his mentor, setting out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Check out this cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sascha Baron Cohen, Christoph Waltz, Kurt Russell. I’m already salivating.




5 reasons you should see “Super 8” this weekend

Posted in Interesting..., Lists, Upcoming Releases with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2011 by judsonw

There are plenty of big time movies hitting theaters this summer. We’ve got Captain America joining The Avengers, Jack Sparrow hitting the seas once again, and the sure to be monumental conclusion to the Harry Potter franchise. However, the one movie that excites me like no other is “Super 8.” Though there is little known about the plot, it somehow involves a group of kids in a small Ohio town in 1979 investigating a possible alien invasion. Here are 5 reasons why it will be THE movie everyone will be talking about this summer.

5. Talented actors and new faces

While most of the actors featured in “Super 8” are fresh newcomers in the vein of Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore of “ET,” there are also some incredibly talented veteran actors. Kyle Chandler, now done with his superb work as the coach on TV’s “Friday Night Lights,” steps in as one of the boy’s fathers. Elle Fanning lends her acting chops to the group of kids. The surprising number of newcomers is refreshing however, and will hopefully make the story more believable as we’re not forced to watch Abigail Breslin running from martians.

4. It’s incredibly mysterious

Ever since director JJ Abrams announced he was making a film in the vein of old school Amblin films, there has been nothing but secrecy surrounding the project. There are few plot details out there, leaving pretty much just the teaser trailers to whet your appetite. At the end of each trailer, images were hidden in the camera’s shutter (above), leaving the audience clues to what the film could be about. Sounds a lot like “Cloverfield,” which is a great thing to me.

3. It will make you feel like a kid again

Who didn’t get goosebumps seeing the Amblin logo (with ET flying across the moon) before the “Super 8” trailer? There’s something instantly nostalgic about Spielberg’s early films like “ET” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The setting of a small town with realistic kids will almost certainly bring you back to a time when life was simple and innocent. Add in the fact that the kids featured in the film spend their days making homemade movies with each other and your imagination will be reinvigorated.

2. The two men behind it all

Steven Spielberg’s name is synonymous with quality blockbuster movies. JJ Abrams is becoming the next Steven Spielberg. The two can now call themselves collaborators with “Super 8,” Abrams acting as director while Spielberg takes the producer role. However the film turns out, there’s no doubt each man’s impact will be felt. The two both grew up making movies with super 8 cameras as kids so this is sort of a passion project for both. Abrams’ directing resume has been excellent (“Lost” pilot, “Mission Impossible 3,” “Star Trek”) and there’s no reason to think that will change now.

1. A completely original story

Believe it or not, “Super 8” is not based on a comic book, board game, novel, amusement park ride, or an already existing franchise. Whatever we’re gonna get is going to be completely new, no matter what influenced it. There will surely be a sense of intrigue, surprise, and awe as the story unfolds for the first time in front of our eyes. I for one can’t wait.

11 Movies To Look Out For In 2011

Posted in Lists, Upcoming Releases on January 17, 2011 by judsonw

The Beaver (March 23)

This movie just sounds too good to be true. The controversial and almost universally hated Mel Gibson takes on the role of a trouble husband and executive who uses a beaver puppet for his only form of communication. The much praised, Black Listed script was directed by Jodie Foster, who also co-stars. This sounds like such a quirky story that I just have to see it to believe it.

Sucker Punch (March 25)

If the image above doesn’t get you excited for this movie, then I don’t know what will. Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) continues with his digital world building to beautiful perfection. Believe it or not, Sucker Punch marks Snyder’s first foray into an original story (co-written by himself). And the story sounds badass. A young girl named Baby Doll is institutionalized by her evil stepfather. While in the institution, she imagines an alternate dreamworld to cope and constructs a plan to escape her nightmare, along with her girlfriends. Beautiful visuals, chicks with machine guns, and an enormous bunny mecca robot. I’m totally there.

Hanna (April 8 )

One of my favorite directors, Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice), takes the reigns for an entirely different kind of project. Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones) as a 16 year old trained assassin dispatched on a mission across Europe. The film has a knockout cast including Eric Bana as Hanna’s father and Cate Blanchett as a ruthless intelligence operative. So it’s like Hit Girl: The Movie? Yes, please.

Source Code (April 15)

I only need one name to become excited about a new movie: Duncan Jones. The director behind 2009’s amazing science fiction film Moon, he  now follows up his work of beauty with Source Code. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who is transported back in time into the body of another man in order to find a bomber on a train. Moon was made on a tiny budget and looked gorgeous. I’m excited to see what Jones can do with an equally intriguing story on a much bigger budget.

Scream 4 (April 15)

Scream is one of my favorite horror movies. It’s legitimately scary and brutal, but also is very smart and funny. It parodied the intricacies and trends of the horror genre, all the while becoming a solid entry into the genre. Sure, Scream 2 and Scream 3 weren’t nearly as well done, but I’m still excited to see these characters again in the fourth installment. Wes Craven returns to the director’s seat and the script was written by original scribe Kevin Williamson, so hopefully it will be just as enjoyable as the original.

Tree of Life (May 27)

Director Terrence Malick only makes a film once every blue moon. Though all his movies may not be narratively perfect, they all cause eye orgasms with their beauty. His first film since 2005’s The New World, Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt and Sean Pitt as brothers (I think) and the story may be about the meaning of life (I think). To be honest, I know next to nothing about what this movie is about. But it’s a new Malick film so there is no way I won’t be there on opening day.

Super 8

JJ Abrams. Steven Spielberg. Cloverfield-like secrecy. A kick-ass teaser trailer. Sign me up.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (July 15)

Arguably the most epic and successful series of films of all time finally comes to an end this summer. What other film franchise has had as many as 8 movies with almost the entire cast in tact for each progressive film? It’s truly remarkable, especially when you consider the quality of each film either remains consistent or grows. While Part 1 was a fun ride, it wasn’t perfect. I’m hoping for an epic conclusion to J.K. Rowling’s fantastic story. This movie will mark the end of Harry Potter mania, so it better go out with a bang.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)

In a summer full of superhero movies, Captain America is the most interesting. Can it manage to be a good film, minus the cheese factor? The story takes place during WWII so that’s one step in the right direction. Chris Evans takes on another superhero (he was the Human Torch in Fantastic 4) as Steve Rodgers. The guy has charisma and the body for the part so hopefully he’ll hit a home run with it. The movie is directed by Joe Johnston (The Wolfman), however, so I have some reservations. Hoping for the best, especially if the success of this film determines what happens with the upcoming Avengers movie.

Cowboys and Aliens (July 29)

We finally get to see what Jon Favreau (Iron Man) can do with another action franchise. Everything about this movie, from the poster, teaser trailer, source material, and cast, shows promise. Want to know what it’s about? Read the title. Not intrigued? Then this movie probably isn’t for you.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December 21)

I’m usually against remaking foreign films for American audiences when the foreign film in question hasn’t even been out for a year! The insanely popular novel has already been adopted in Sweden and it was a pretty excellent thriller. However, if anyone will make me warm up to an American remake, it’s David Fincher. Hot off his near perfect movie The Social Network, Fincher will be directing Rooney Mara as the titular character (Lisbeth Salandar) and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist. I’m honestly just excited to see this story put to screen again, and even more anxious to see what Fincher can do to make it his own.

My Top 10 Movies of 2010

Posted in Lists on December 31, 2010 by judsonw

These are my favorite movies of 2010, not necessarily the “best.” The King’s Speech may be an overall better made film than Scott Pilgrim, but that won’t be the film I’ll be watching over and over again in 2011.

Honorable mentions that just barely missed my list: Toy Story 3, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Easy A, Winter’s Bone, True Grit

#10 127 Hours

Danny Boyle could have made any movie he wanted to after the surprise smash success of his last film, Slumdog Millionaire. Instead, Boyle decided to bring a story to the screen that would seem impossible for an audience to sit through. The 127 hours refers to the number of hours thrill seeker Aron Ralston was trapped down a canyon with his arm caught behind an enormous boulder. James Franco plays Ralston with a cocky likability and Boyle films his trauma in a way that really lets you inside the head of the man as he breaks down physically and mentally. 127 Hours is a film that affected me not only emotionally, but physically as well. I felt disoriented, thirsty, and more alive as I left the theater. There can’t be much higher praise than that for a movie.

#9 Shutter Island

It seems like forever that this movie was out in theaters. Originally planned for release in October 2009, it was pushed back to February 2010 after “budgetary concerns.” The wait was worth it. Though the story is somewhat predictable, the film is perfectly crafted by Scorsese around Leonardo DiCaprio’s finest performance to date. As I watched this movie for the first time, I was glued to my seat and barely moved a muscle as I eagerly anticipated what was going to happen next. It’s purely movie making at its finest. Just a beautiful, creepy, intriguing, and an expertly acted film.

#8 Black Swan

What more is there to be said about this film? It’s a descent into madness, an experience so intense that it only comes along every few years. Darren Aronofsky really puts you right into the mind of ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) with an up close and personal filming of the ballet sequences. Portman is simply heartbreaking as the perfection seeking Nina. As she breaks down with each passing minute, so do we. It’s a film I haven’t been able to get out of a mind since my only viewing of it. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.

#7 The Kids Are All Right

What a refreshing little movie! Annette Bening and Julianne Moore both give Oscar caliber performances as a lesbian couple who have to deal with the repercussions of their children’s sperm donor coming into their lives. The film just feels so true and real, especially with its portrayal of marriage. The spouses could have just as easily been a man and woman. The best part of the movie? It’s hilarious! This is one film that we will be hearing a lot more of come Oscar time.

#6 The Fighter

This is one movie I didn’t expect to be on my year end top 10 list a mere few weeks ago. Out of all the movies I’ve seen this “awards season,” this is the film that has stuck with me the most. Is it Christian Bale’s powerhouse performance as drug addict Dickie Ecklund? Is it David O’ Russell’s unique filming of the boxing scenes? Or is it the funny yet heartwarming portrayal of a family striving for success but never knowing how to do it right? All of the above, and more. This is a perfect crowd pleaser of a movie.

#5 Catfish

“Don’t let anyone tell you what it is.” That’s the tagline for Catfish, and oh is it appropriate. This is a film that almost requires no prior knowledge to get the intended effect. It’s about a guy who meets a girl on Facebook. That’s all you need to know. Some emotions I felt during my screening of Catfish: interested, skeptical, enthused, nervous, terrified, weirded out, heartbroken, hopeful.

#4 Inception

Inception marks one of my favorite directors’, Christopher Nolan, greatest achievement in his career. A big budget summer blockbuster that makes you think – a lot – is a rare thing in Hollywood these days. I’ve seen the film four times now and still find myself wrapping my mind around some of the big ideas on display. The lack of significant character development (outside of Cobb) is overshadowed by all the crazy visuals and storytelling. And yeah…the top fell. The better question is “would it matter if it didn’t?”

#3 Let Me In

When I first heard that the 2008 Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In was being remade a mere two years later in America, I was enraged. Why remake a movie that is itself almost perfect? Imagine my surprise when I watch the remake, retitled Let Me In, and love it even more than the original. Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee are both incredible as the vampire and young boy who fall in love. Director Matt Reeves moves the story to 1980s New Mexico and makes the film more emotional, terrifying, and beautiful. This is the most gorgeous movie I’ve seen this year (aside from some shoddy CGI). Also, ever since I’ve seen this movie, I check the back seat of my car every time I get in to drive. Once you watch it, you’ll know exactly why that is.

#2 The Social Network

Who knew a movie about the founding of Facebook could make such a perfect film? Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin make the perfect combo for a story about dreaming big and accomplishing those dreams, all the while making friends, enemies, and changing the world. Everything about The Social Network is pitch perfect, from Sorkin’s kinetic dialogue to every performance, the highlight being a terrific Jesse Eisenburg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. His less than flattering portrayal has made me feel guilty each time I log into the social behemoth. But then there’s Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, and Rooney Mara. I like, a lot.

#1 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Perhaps the most enjoyable movie ever created? Scott Pilgrim runs a mile a minute, as director Edgar Wright crams as much of Bryan Lee O’ Malley’s graphic novels into one film. The dialogue is hilariously snappy, the action scenes are expertly choreographed, the performances are a joy to watch, and the visuals are a feast for the eyes. Though the movie is an awesome experience for anyone, if you grew up playing video games (like me) then the enjoyment factor is bumped up 1000 notches as numerous references to games of the past and present are thrown at the audience continuously. To top it all off, a great soundtrack is provided by such bands as Beck and Broken Social Scene. I’m straight up in LESBIANS with this movie!