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My Favorite Movie Moments of 2011

So I haven’t updated this blog in a while – obviously. At first I thought I would review all the movies I’ve seen since September but then I realized that would take far too long so instead I present you with my favorite moments from films in 2011. Make sure to stay tuned, I will write more about my favorite films of the year and my thoughts on this year’s Oscar race in the weeks to come.

Note: I still haven’t seen a number of films including The Artist and The Ides of March.

The Tree of Life:

All of the scenes of cosmic space and the birth of the universe (such as the one I’ve posted) were absolutely breathtaking, perhaps some of the most gorgeous moments in film history.

X-Men: First Class

I loved the special mutant cameos in this X-Men origin story but I especially loved Magnetos scene’s. In particular I loved when Magneto stabs a man with a knife by controlling it with his mind and also the touching scene in which Professor X teaches Magneto to control his mutant abilities.


Where to begin? Too many funny moments to count, the scene in which all of the bridesmaids start pooping and puking in their bridesmaids dresses is indeed hilarious but the following 2 are also my favorites.

Midnight in Paris:

That moment when Owen Wilson’s character and the audience learns that we’ve traveled to another time period in Parisian history. The historical cameos were a delight.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2:

There were a few incredibly exciting and epic moments in the film but the most powerful scene in the movie, if not the entire series came when Harry got to look into Snape’s memory and all his deepest, darkest secrets were revealed.

The Help:

In a film with a surprising amount of moving scenes The Help left the best for last. If the movie had ended in any other way I would have been disappointed but instead it empowered Viola Davis’ character without ignoring the reality of her difficult situation. I also liked every time she said:


I loved the montage sequences, if you’ve seen the film you will know what I mean.


The opening credits were a stylish thing of beauty.

Crazy, Stupid, Love:

The bar scenes.


Those wonderful moments when the A’s win and the even better moments when they lose. Seriously, this movie, all about losing ends in a graceful manner. Here’s the final scene:


The first scene is absolutely stunning but the final scene is one of the most astonishing and moving ends to a movie I have ever seen.  Here is the first scene:

The Descendants:

I found a few scenes in The Descendants to be quite moving, especially cause its theme of death and family in Hawaii hits so close to home but one of my favorite scenes happened to be the simple yet powerful final scene.


Loads of great moments here, especially all of the odes to classic films which brought a tear to my eye.


Shame is filled with scenes that are very difficult to watch but one of its most lovely scenes comes when Carey Mulligan sings “New York, New York” all the way through in one uninterrupted take.

Young Adult:

Young Adult is also a difficult movie to watch but Diablo Cody’s fantastically realistic script and Charlize Theron’s phenomenal performance come across in scenes like this one:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol:

The jaw dropping scene in which Tom Cruise’s character attempts to climb one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

The terrifying and brilliant scene set to Enya and the opening credit sequence shown here:

War Horse:

In addition to some spectacular imagery, War Horse features a lovely scene in which the titular horse gets stuck in barbed wire and is rescued by an English soldier and a German soldier. You may call it sappy but I don’t care.


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After a long and hot summer movie season filled with an onslaught of underwhelming and downright stupid films I can go to sleep happy knowing there are many great-looking films coming our way as the season changes. That being said, there certainly were some intelligent and thrilling films that came out this summer, namely The Tree of Life, The Help, X-Men: First Class, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Harry Potter and from what I hear Midnight in Paris, Another Earth, Super 8 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

All of this pales in comparison though to this upcoming fall and winter movie season. This one might be one for the record books. Never before have I seen a film season packing this much of a Hollywood punch. Many of the biggest directors are releasing films and many of the most prominent and talented actors of our time have films coming out. There is the very real potential that this year’s Oscar telecast will be the most star-studded in recent memory. Everyone from Meryl Streep to Brad Pitt to Tilda Swinton to Ryan Gosling to Kate Winslet to Leonardo DiCaprio to Sandra Bullock to Viggo Mortenson have a chance of being nominated. Without further pause here are the films I am most excited to see between now and the new year.

Contagion – 9/9

Steven Soderbergh is a hit or miss director but he is mostly a hit. Even his films that don’t completely hit the mark are enjoyable. Combine his direction with an interesting plot and a dream cast (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Lawrence Fishburn, Marion Cotillard) and this could be a success.

Drive – 9/16

Nicolas Winding Refn won the award for Best Director at Cannes this year for Drive. Combine that with three of the best new and young actors of today (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Christina Hendricks) and this should be as explosive as its trailer makes it look.

Restless – 9/16

The trailer alone looks lovely. Also Gus Van Sant directed it. Need I say more?

Moneyball – 9/23

Looks compelling. I love underdog movies.

50/50 – 9/30

One young man’s battle against cancer. Looks funny, not to mention sweet.

The Ides of March – 10/7

George Clooney directs and stars in this political thriller. The cast includes a few of my favorites, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei and Paul Giamatti.

The Skin I Live In – 10/14

Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovár tackles plastic surgery and our obsession with beauty in his signature bizarre and unique style.

The Rum Diary – 10/28

Johnny Depp stars in this adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel. Seems like a perfect fit.

Anonymous – 10/28

Did Shakespeare actually write all of his plays? Anonymous asks that question. Vanessa Redgrave stars as Queen Elizabeth in this gorgeous looking period piece.

My Week With Marilyn – 11/4

Michelle Williams stars as Marilyn Monroe during the production of  The Prince and the Showgirl. Williams has proven her acting abilities before and I have high hopes for her portrayal of Monroe.

My Week with Marilyn Poster

J. Edgar – 11/9

Clint Eastwood directs Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in a film about the man’s personal and public lives.

J. Edgar poster

Melancholia – 11/9

Controversial German director Lars Von Trier brings us a story that The Daily Telegraph announced is “a tragi-comic opera about the end of the world”, and that “The apocalypse, when it comes, is so beautifully rendered that the film cements the quality of fairy tale that its palatial setting suggests.”

Hugo – 11/23

Martin Scorsese directs a children’s story. You read that correctly.

The Descendants – 11/23

Alexander Payne (Sideways) directs George Clooney as a single father living in Hawaii.

A Dangerous Method – 11/23

Carl Jung. Sigmund Freud. Viggo Mortenson. Michael Fassbender. Keira Knightly. David Cronenberg. The Oscars were made for movies like this.

The Artist – 11/23

The Artist is a silent black and white film being released in 2011. You will be hearing a lot about this film in the months to come.

We Need to Talk About Kevin -12/2

Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly star as parents dealing with their teenage son who goes on a killing spree.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – 12/9

A Cold War thriller staring Colin Firth and Gary Oldman.

Young Adult – 12/9

Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody (the team behind Juno) reunite to tell the story of a fiction writer returning to her small hometown. Charlize Theron stars.

The Iron Lady – 12/16

Meryl Streep is the one to beat this year in her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, the infamous former prime minister of the U.K.

Carnage – 12/16

Roman Polanski directs an all-star cast in a film adaptation of the God of Carnage, the Tony award winning play.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – 12/23

One of my favorite directors David Fincher adapts the best selling Swedish novel for American audiences. Judging from the trailer alone it looks like he has done the novel justice.

The Adventures of Tintin – 12/23

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson bring Tintin to cinematic life.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – 12/25

Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis star in this adaptation of the best selling novel set in a post 9/11 world.


In The Land of Blood and Honey – 12/25

First time writer and director Angelina Jolie brings us a love story set during the Bosnian War.

War Horse – 12/30

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Tony award winning play. The trailer alone is stunning.

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Best Posters of 2010

Hey everyone,

A poster is one of the main forms of advertising for a movie. Most posters you look at and forget about 3 seconds later but some posters are so unusual and mesmerizing that you cannot help but stare and perhaps eventually shell out $10 to see the film. Here are my picks for the best movie posters this year in descending order. Keep in mind that I am judging the poster itself and not the movie, in fact I haven’t even seen all of these films. Also, make sure to vote on the poll at the bottom!

15. Agora

14. For Colored Girls

13. The Kids Are All Right

12. The American

11. Eat Pray Love

10. The Tempest

9. Date Night

8. When You’re Strange

7. I Am Love

6. Never Let Me Go

5. Inception

4. Black Swan

3. The Social Network

2. The King’s Speech

1. Somewhere

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Oscar Bait

In the fall of every year studios release the films that they think are most likely to receive awards recognition. So far this year, not too many great “Oscar” films have come out, with The Social Network being the most talked about exception. The following are some of the films that look like they have a good shot at a few Oscar nods. Beware however, each year I see a trailer that looks amazing, but unfortunately ends up being far better than the film itself. This was the case with the trailer for last year’s “Nine” and “Australia” in 2008 and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” in 2007. Nevertheless, here are some films that may just make little gold Oscar jump for joy.

Oct. 22 – Hereafter

Nov. 5 – 127 Hours

Nov. 5 – Fair Game

Nov. 19 – The Next Three Days

Nov. 19 – Made in Dagenham

Nov. 24 – The King’s Speech

Dec. 3 – Black Swan

Dec. 10 – The Tempest

Dec. 10 – The Company Men

Dec. 10 – The Fighter

Dec. 25 – Somewhere

Dec. 25 – True Grit

Dec. 31 – Blue Valentine


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Best High School Movies

Most high school seniors have either already graduated this year or will do so in the next couple of weeks. The last few months before graduating from high school I tried to watch as many high school-centered films as possible because I would never have the opportunity to watch a high school movie as a high school student ever again. Of course, you can still appreciate high school movies years after graduating so here are some movies that will surely bring you back to the good old days when all you wanted to do was fit in, party with your friends and not get caught doing something you wouldn’t want your parents to see you doing. Instead of commenting on each of the films, I have instead included a quote from each of the films, in addition to a scene or trailer from each. Enjoy!

Rebel Without A Cause (1955)

If I had one day when I didn’t have to be all confused and I didn’t have to feel that I was ashamed of everything. If I felt that I belonged someplace. You know? – Jim Stark

American Graffiti (1973)

Oh, no, not me. Not old Carol. The night is young and I’m not hittin’ the rack till I get a little action. – Carol

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

What Jefferson was saying was, Hey! You know, we left this England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves – pronto – we’ll just be bogus too! Get it? – Jeff Spicoli

The Breakfast Club (1985)

You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed. – Brian Johnson

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

If anyone needs a day off, it’s Cameron. He has a lot of things to sort out before he graduates. Can’t be wound up this tight and go to college, his roommate will kill him. – Ferris

Dazed and Confused (1993)

The older you get, the more rules they are going to try and get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N. – Wooderson

Clueless (1995)

Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie. – Cher

Election (1999)

Vote for me, because I don’t even want to go to college, and I don’t care, and as president I won’t do anything. The only promise I will make is that if elected I will immediately dismantle the student government, so that none of us will ever have to sit through one of these stupid assemblies again! – Tammy Metzler

Mean Girls (2004)

It’s like I have ESPN or something. My breasts can always tell when it’s going to rain. – Karen

Superbad (2007)

I just wanna go to the rooftops and scream, “I love my best friend, Evan.” – Seth

American Teen (2008)

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What Makes a Great Summer Movie?

For most of us in the U.S. we are either already on summer vacation or will be within the next month and with this shift in seasons comes the dreaded Summer Movie Season! Did you hear that? That’s the sound of 1,000 Criterion Collection fans screaming in agony at the prospects of another summer filled with stupid Hollywood blockbusters and unfunny star-driven comedies. I have to admit as a Criterion Collection fan, I actually really love Summer Movie Season. There is just something so great about going to a movie theatre on a hot, humid day and watching a mindless, action-packed extravaganza and feeling the adrenaline pumping through my body as I leave the theatre and walk out into the hot summer evening.

This summer I’m excited to see Prince of Persia, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, Inception and Salt but I have to ask, what makes a summer movie great? For me a summer movie can be totally ridiculous and laden with special effects as long as it is well executed. Summer movies are all about fantasy and if this fantastical vision is poorly executed, the movie is doomed to disappoint (see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). So here are my picks for the best summer movies of the last decade.

2009 – Star Trek

I would say Inglourious Basterds was the best film of the summer of 2009 but it came out at the very end of August and to me was too worthy of the title, it was perhaps the best film of the year not just the summer. Now on to Star Trek, this re-imagining of the original series was so fun and had such a great cast that I left the theatre wanting more. Critics and audiences both agreed that it was the most exciting film of the summer.

Runners up: The Hangover, Moon, District 9

2008 – The Dark Knight

Come on, what other movie from the summer of ’08 can even touch The Dark Knight? Not only was it thrilling and action packed, it was intelligent, which is an adjective that is rarely ever associated with summer blockbusters.

Runners up: Iron Man, Wall-E, Pineapple Express

2007 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

Order of the Pheonix is one of the best novels in the Harry Potter series and it made for probably the best Potter film. New characters like the unimaginably annoying and wicked teacher Dolores Umbridge and the sexily evil Bellatrix Lestrange added much needed freshness to the series. The movie ends with an epic showdown between Harry and Voldemort, finally adding some much needed darkness and weight to the series.

Runners up: Knocked Up, Superbad, The Bourne Ultimatum

2006 – Little Miss Sunshine

This was a pretty weak summer for summer movies but luckily there was Little Miss Sunshine to save the day. The film isn’t an action-packed blockbuster or even a typical comedy but it is a variation on the road-trip movie, which is at its core a summer movie genre. Little Miss Sunshine proved that studios can release smart, darkly comedic movies in the summer.

Runners up: Cars, The Devil Wears Prada

2005 – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Unlike, 2006, 2005 had a very strong summer for movies. I pick Star Wars: Episode III ultimately because it was a very fun movie to watch and though it was nowhere near the quality of the 3 original Star Wars films it was exponentially better than the two other prequels. It brought the prequel trilogy to a satisfying end, despite the terrible dialogue and horrendous acting.

Runners up: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wedding Crashers, The 40 Year Old Virgin

2004 – Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 is a perfect example of how you make a great comic book superhero movie. Building off of the first film, the second adds a compelling villain and makes the internal struggles of the characters as interesting as the external struggles of good vs. evil. Spider-Man 2 is like a perfectly made sundae, it just tastes so good.

Runners up: Troy, Shrek 2, The Bourne Supremacy

2003 – The Matrix: Reloaded

Neither of the Matrix sequels could ever hold a candle to the brilliance of the original but The Matrix: Reloaded did deliver some amazing action scenes. Though it was less intelligent than the original, it still managed to be intriguing but let’s admit it, the real reason we watched it was for the eye-candy in the form of the fight scenes and in Monica Bellucci.

Runners up: X2: X-Men United, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean

2002 – Minority Report

Minority Report is very well executed. It’s exciting, disturbing and pseudo-intelligent. Even if you don’t like Tom Cruise’s odd behavior this movie delivers a tasty piece of cold summer cherry pie.

Runners up: Spider-Man, Lilo & Stitch, Signs

2001 – Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is the perfect summer movie. Why? Because you don’t have to think, the plot is exciting yet incredibly simple and it stars Angelina Jolie. It’s fun and it’s dumb, what more could you want?

Runners up: Shrek, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, The Fast & The Furious, Jurassic Park III, The Others

2000 – Gladiator

I had no idea Gladiator came out in the summer (May 5) because to be honest it seemed too good to have come out in the season of sequels and prequels. It has the action of big summer movies but also the story and execution we are usually only used to during “Awards Season.” I think Gladiator is the perfect example that we need not wait to release all the good movies between September and January. Indeed this past year The Hurt Locker came out during the summer, so perhaps one day soon summer movie season will not be synonymous with bad movies, then again we still have Piranha 3-D and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore to look forward to this summer.

Runners up: X-Men, Chicken Run

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I’m Baaack (Summer Vacation Movies)

Hi everyone,

After a month off I am back to the blogosphere! I haven’t posted anything new lately because I have been busy with finals and other things in life. Anyway, I am now on summer break and have decided to dedicate a post to different vacation destinations. Even if you don’t have the cash or the means to go anywhere this summer, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch a movie that has the power to transport you to another place. So here are a few films that will bring you to that city or place you’ve always wanted to visit.

Hawaii – From Here to Eternity

You may know the image of a young, attractive couple kissing and caressing on a tropical beach but you probably don’t know the movie it comes from, From Here to Eternity. Following the lives of soldiers before and during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the films stars Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift and Deborah Kerr in three terrific roles. This movie will have you singing “Aloha ‘Oe” in no time. Here is that iconic beach scene:

New York City – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

There are so many incredible movies set in New York; Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Rear Window, Home Alone 2 but most of them show a grittier version of New York, which is fine but doesn’t necessarily leave the viewer thinking, to quote Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, “I want to go to there.” Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the other hand shows the audience that New York can be the most exciting, fun and promising city on the planet. Need proof? Check out this scene:

Las Vegas – Ocean’s 11

Las Vegas is hedonism at its best and worst. It is a city seemingly void of culture and full of botoxed- bimbos, greasy mobsters and obese tourists. Ocean’s 11 is a film that luckily for us focuses on the more palatable sides of the town. It is a movie that shows us that taken in small doses, Vegas can be wildest ride of your life, plus no other movie has ever made stealing look so fun.

Paris – Breathless

You’ll fall in love with Paris and with this movie. Breathless takes a somewhat serious subject matter, sets it in Paris and through the whole French-nish of it all makes it light hearted, beautiful and as charming as its star Jean Seberg.

Rome – La Dolce Vita

Just one of Federico Fellini’s masterpieces, the gorgeously shot La Dolce Vita is practically an ode to Rome. It captures the timelessness of the city along with its mystery, its glamour and its allure, especially in this following scene:

Barcelona – Vicky Cristina Barcelona

At times Vicky Cristina Barcelona feels more like a travel ad than a movie with a functioning plot. It so beautifully captures the city that even  if you feel like the movie had no point you will seriously consider booking a flight to this Spanish city. Penelope Cruz is also absolutely fantastic in this film. Watch her and her co-stars explore the sights, sounds and flavors of this city in the following clip.

Japan – Lost in Translation

Though not exactly a love letter to Japan, Lost in Translation does show us the geographic beauty of the country, the unusual fun to be had there and the friendliness of its people, in addition to exploring its absurdities. After seeing the film, you too will consider booking a flight to Tokyo and getting lost.

India – The Darjeeling Limited

This film certainly glorifies and fetishizes India but it’s hard to criticize it when it is just so damn fun. This story of 3 brothers traveling through India, on the quest for spiritual enlightenment is beautifully shot and well acted. Does it turn a blind eye to the realities of daily Indian life? Perhaps but it will also transport you to a fantastic land of incredible tastes and vibrant sounds.

The Arabian Desert – Lawrence of Arabia

Okay, I’ll admit it, Lawrence of Arabia isn’t exactly a Travel Channel program. It explores the harshness of the desert, the clash between cultures and British imperialism. It also shows us the beauty of the desert and through its iconic score seduces us into a thrilling Arab world.

Latin America – The Motorcycle Diaries

Most people probably know this as the film about a young Che Guevera taking a road trip across Latin America but it also a film about travel itself. This beautifully shot film gives us spectacular views of the Latin American countryside as well as the wonder of its cities. The Motorcycle Diaries is a film that explores the transformative effect of travel and shows us that the more we know about the world, the more we learn about others and the injustices they face, the better we will become.

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