Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top 10 (+15) of 2012

It's that time again!

I believe I saw something like 75 films this year - more or less. Here's the list of those I meant to see this year that I did not get to: Farewell My Queen, A Royal Affair, Middle of Nowhere, Samsara, Dredd, Return, Bernie, the Hunter, On the Road, Keep the Lights On, Smashed, End of Watch, Leviathan, Kill List, Hello I Must Be Going, Barbara, Lore, The Master, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Broken, Sister, War Witch, The Imposter, Girl Walk All Day, Searching for Sugar Man, Haywire, Coriolanus, Meanwhile in Mamelodi, Starlet, Faith Love and Whiskey, Arcadia, Tchoupitoulas, Polisse, Vivan las Antipodas, 3 2 1 Frankie Go Boom, Bonsai. Is Kon-Tiki out yet? That too. *Le Sigh* To be an insomniac.

Top 10
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Yup. I was surprised by how great this turned out to be. High school coming-of-age films can so easily become cliche. But this one rings incredibly true. All the characters are amazingly well drawn and well acted. And more than that, the film evokes the intense emotions, the feelings of possibility and the weight of the world of adolescence. I'm so disappointed that the script and Ezra Miller, in particular, have been so overlooked. The one bright spot is that I'm confident this will be well loved by teens in the years to come.

2. The Cabin in the Woods. As I wrote before, "if you missed it in theaters, you owe it to yourself to check it out on video. Even if you don't like horror films. It isn't as scary as Scream (if it is particularly scary at all). It is, however, very, very clever and amazingly fun. Seriously - SO MUCH FUN. There's a reason it made the CriticWire top 10 for the first half of the year."  You know, I was thinking about how several reviews knocked Cabin for not being "scary" enough. And I think that misses the point. Take Red, White and Blue  - one of my favorite horror films. It is a horror film because it is horrifying; it isn't particularly 'scary'. Nothing jumps out at you and there are no creepy monsters to have nightmares about. It is a film about people - just people - in bad circumstances and the things they do to each other. Which, if you think about it, is what makes the best apocalyptic films. The scariest parts are never the zombies or the vampires, but what humans are capable of doing to each other (think 28 Days Later, Children of Men, Stake Land, The Road, or dystopian works such as V for Vendetta). (In a way, it almost makes them all holocaust stories.) Psychological horror - imaging what kind of evil your neighbor is capable of - is far more effective than a killer ghost jumping out at you. Which brings me back to Cabin. It isn't super scary in terms of running and hiding from monsters, but it is a great horror film in that it forces us to examine why we are drawn to horror films and what we would be willing to do to our fellow humans.

But that is only on reflection. Watching it is just a joy. There is a killer unicorn. It is wonderful.

3. Argo. This was fabulous. I don't think it has a shot, but I think that this is the one that should win best picture. It's more of a thriller than Zero Dark Thirty is and it is more fun than any of the other films that are up.

4. Liberal Arts. My earlier review; "The tagline is about a 30-something falling for a 19-yr-old when he visits his alma mater, but it's actually about a lot more and many of the best parts stem from his interactions with a host of other characters he meets on campus. The film touches on college, life-long learning, literature, relationships, growing up... all-in-all it's just very well written and not what I expected. I really recommend checking it out."

5. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (I saw it in late January last year, so it made some of my year end commentary, but not my top 10.) This film is just staggeringly beautiful. It has some of my favorite cinematography of all time. I love the measured pacing, the way the story builds, the way the characters are drawn through their conversations - all of it.

6. Silver Linings Playbook. This is just fantastic. I am so, so happy that the entire cast is up for acting, because it is well deserved. I'm not a huge Bradley Cooper fan, but I think he gives just a phenomenal performance as a man with bi-polar disorder trying to readjust to life. Robert DeNiro gives his best performance in ages. Jennifer Lawrence is mesmerizing. It is funny and poignant and incredibly well done. 

7. Lincoln. Okay - it's a teensy bit pompous and every single black characters is dignified and stately. But, it is very well written, the acting is mostly very good, it is technically excellent, and it fulfills the wish that our (current) congress would be more like parliament in Australia and the UK. (Seriously, why don't we have fabulous takedowns like this? Or call representatives guttersnipes? I mean, we don't need to go so far as beating people with canes, but...)

8. Zero Dark Thirty. Having only just seen this, I'm still processing it a bit. It isn't the Hurt Locker. There isn't the sustained tension that film had. But Jessica Chastain is wonderful in it (even if she doesn't get scenery to chew the way Claire Danes does.) As are many of the supporting characters (granted, I'm biased towards anything Mark Strong does.)  It actually reminds me a bit of Zodiac, in terms of the long time spent chasing down leads, although the majority of the action in Zodiac takes place in the beginning, and Zero Dark Thirty culminates in the raid on the compound.

9. Looper. I really love Rian Johnson. I think he is such a fabulous director. I love that this film is clever and goes in directions that are impossible to predict. Several of the sequences are so brilliant (Paul Dano's character, Bruce Willis going after Jeff Daniels, the meeting in the diner) that they stay with you long after the film has wrapped. And the fact that the marketing team manged to keep the third act reveal a secret was incredibly impressive. (JJ Abrams should take a hint - that's how you make a movie surprising).

10. Killing them Softly. I... did not expect to like this so much. And it was a massive, massive flop. But I think people were expecting an action film, and instead they got a downbeat, talky, black comedy about capitalism. The acting is fab, the direction is great (especially the robbery), and the script is brilliant. 

And 15 more:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The JWD awards

Like last year, and the one before, I imagine what it would be like to control the Oscars. As puppet master. (Dance, Bret McKenzie, Dance!)

So! Nominations and bonus categories:

Best Film:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Cloud Atlas
Django Unchained
Killing Them Softly
Liberal Arts
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Popcorn Film/Genre flick
The Avengers
Cabin in the Woods
Frank and Robot
The Hunger Games
Pitch Perfect
Seven Psychopaths

Best Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
Rachel Weisz - The Deep Blue Sea
Quvenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Emma Watson - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Hani Furstenberg - The Loneliest Planet
Fenessa Pineda - Mosquita y Mari
Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty

Notable omissions: Melanie Lynskey - Hello I Must Be Going, Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Smashed,  Emayatzy Corinealdi - Middle of Nowhere, Linda Cardellini - Return

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Anne Hathaway - Les Mis
Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook
Samantha Barks - Les Mis
Emily Blunt - Looper
Brit Marling - Sound of My Voice

Notable omissions: Carmen Ejogo - Sparkle,  Amy Adams - The Master, Ann Dowd - Compliance, Nicole Kidman - The Paperboy

Best Actor:
Daniel Day-Lewis - Lincoln
Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook
John Hawkes - The Sessions
Logan Lerman - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Frank Langella - Robot + Frank
Brad Pitt - Killing Them Softly

Notable omissions: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena - End of Watch, Joaquin Phoenix - The Master, Denis Lavant - Holy Motors

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
Ezra Miller - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Dwight Henry - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Robert DeNiro - Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained
John Goodman - Argo
Sam Rockwell - Seven Psychopaths

Notable omissions: David Oyelowo - Middle of Nowhere, Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master,

Best Ensemble:
Moonrise Kingdom
Seven Psychopaths
Silver Linings Playbook
Safety Not Guaranteed

Notable omissions: Your Sister's Sister, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Starlet, Bernie

Best Director:
Ben Affleck - Argo
Benh Zeitlin - Beasts of the Southern Wild
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
Andrea Arnold - Wuthering Heights
Rian Johnson - Looper

Notable omissions: Michael Haneke - Amour, Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master,

Best Cinematography:
Wuthering Heights
Cloud Atlas
The Loneliest Planet
Valley of Saints
Moonrise Kingdom
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Notable omissions: Anna Karenina, Samsara, On the Road, End of Watch, The Master, Here

Best Screenplay (original/adapted):
Django Unchained (original)
Moonrise Kingdom (original)
Seven Psychopaths (original)
Looper (original)
Cabin in the Woods (original)
Lincoln (adapted)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (adapted)
Argo (adapted)
Silver Linings Playbook (adapted)
Cloud Atlas (adapted)
Killing Them Softly (adapted)

Notable omissions: The Master

Best Visual Effects:
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit
The Avengers
John Carter

Notable omissions: Snow White and the Huntsman, Life of Pi

Best Costumes:
The Queen
The Queen
King Schultz

Notable omissions: Farewell My Queen

Best Makeup:
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit

Best Art/Production Design:
Moonrise Kingdom
Cloud Atlas
Django Unchained
The Hobbit

Notable omissions: Life of Pi, Anna Karenina

Best Editing:
Killing Them Softly
Cloud Atlas
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Notable omissions: The Master

Best Song:
The Riff Off - Pitch Perfect
The Bellas' Finale - Pitch Perfect
Breath of Life - Florence + The Machine - Snow White and the Huntsman
Fire in the Blood - The Bootleggers ft. Emmylou Harris & Nick Cave - Lawless
Abraham's Daughter - Arcade Fire - Hunger Games
Everybody Needs a Best Friend - Norah Jones - Ted
Dull Tool - Fiona Apple - This is 40
Ancora Qui - Ennio Morricone and Elisa Toffoli - Django Unchained
Freedom - Anthony Hamilton & Elayna Boynton - Django Unchained
Song of the Lonely Mountain - Neil Finn - The Hobbit
I Dreamed a Dream - Anne Hathaway - Les Mis
Molly Malone - The Deep Blue Sea

Notable omission: Holy Motors

Best Score:
Moonrise Kingdom
Cloud Atlas
Silver Linings Playbook
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Pitch  Perfect

Notable omissions: Anna Karenina, The Master, Life of Pi, On the Road, Frankenweenie

Best Sound Mixing and Editing:
Killing Them Softly (NYTimes warning)
Les Mis
The Avengers
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Foreign-but-not-British Film:
I know I included it on last year's list, but Once Upon A Time in Anatolia. Fantastic.
Where Do We Go Now?
Valley of Saints

Notable omissions: Amour, Kon-Tiki, No, A Royal Affair, War Witch, Barbara, Lore Elena, Holy Motors, Blancanieves, Oslo August 31, Meanwhile in Mamelodi

Best Documentary: The American Scream

Notable omissions: Pretty much everything else aside from Chasing Ice (pretty good) and Diana Vreeland (horrible).

Best Animated: Ummm.... I need to see Frankenweenie and ParaNorman. Whoops.

Notable omissions: .... all of them?

Best Female Action Star:
Jennifer Lawrence - Hunger Games
Anne Hathaway - Dark Knight Rises
Emily Blunt - Looper
Lynn Collins - John Carter
Naomie Harris - Skyfall (yikes what a stretch!)

Egads. Not such a good year. Even Zoe Bell didn't get a moment in Django. At least there's tv?

Notable omissions: Gina Carano - Haywire, Brave

Best Breakthrough Performance:
Quevenzhane Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
Samantha Barks - Les Mis
Aaron Tveit - Les Mis

Notable omissions: Emayatzy Corinealdi - Middle of Nowhere, Tom Holland - The Impossible, Thure Lindhardt - Keep the Lights On, Ann Dowd - Compliance, Alicia Vikander - Anna Karenina  

Movie You Wanted To Love But Just Couldn't:
Les Mis
The Amazing Spiderman
The Loneliest Planet
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
The Dark Knight Rises

Best Dance:
The Thiller Haka from the credits of Boy
Silver Linings Playbook (not online)
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Cabin in the Woods
the Popcorn scene in Alps (not online)
Magic Mike

Best Villain:
Daniel Henshall - Snowtown
Guy Pearce - Lawless
Tom Hiddleston - The Avengers
Stupidity - Prometheus
Hugo Weaving - Cloud Atlas

Best Quote:
It can still be a date if you order Raisin Bran - Silver Linings Playbook
Sometimes I think I can do crystal meth, but then I think mmm... better not. - Pitch Perfect
Puny God - The Avengers
Argo Fuck Yourself - Argo
I'm never gonna see a merman - Cabin in the Woods
Jiminy Cricket! He flew the coop! - Moonrise Kingdom
Fuck all you guys, my wife worked hard on these! - Django Unchained
America's not a country - it's a business. Now fucking pay me. - Killing Them Softly.
Fact is, the law says you cannot touch... but I think I see a lot of lawbreakers up in this house tonight. - Magic Mike
Mwufveivumh - Bane, Dark Knight Rises.

Best Opening to a Film:
Seven Psychopaths
John Dies at the End
Cabin in the Woods

Notable omissions: The Turin Horse, Bernie, Holy Motors, Haywire

Best Ending (retitled in 2012 as the McKayla Maroney award):
Looper - spoiler: JGL shoots himself
Cabin in the Woods - spoiler: the world ends
Skyfall - the players fall into place
Perks of Being a Wallflower - the tunnel
Killing Them Softly - Brad Pitt's monologue
Seven Psychopaths - as the credits roll
The Avengers - schwarma

Film I haven't gotten to that I am most looking forward to:
End of Watch
The Hunter

Most Confused Politics: The Dark Knight Rises

Creepiest Off Screen Violence: Paul Dano, Looper

The "Adaptation" Award (tie): Argo - the runway and Seven Psychopaths - the cemetery

Best Argument for a Woman's Right to Choose: Prometheus

Best Scene in an Otherwise Not Great Film: The riddle contest in The Hobbit

Worst imitation of Moriarty: Javier Bardem, Skyfall (not to mention...)

Best pet: Woola, John Carter

Best Rabbit: Tom Waits', Seven Psychopaths

Actor Having the Most Fun While Earning a Paycheck: Guy Pearce, Lockout

Best Moment of Panic: Katniss in the tube, Hunger Games

Best priest: William H. Macy, The Sessions

Worst CGI: The stampede, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Most in Need of Diction Lessons: Tom Hardy, Lawless and Dark Knight Rises

Worst Marketing Campaign: John Carter

Best Marketing Campaign: Looper

Best Angry Molesting Tree: Cabin in the Woods

Best Ode to Being Obsessed with a Film: Michael Fassbender, Prometheus

Best Kiss: Amazing Spiderman

Most Nerve Wracking Sequence: The robbery - Killing Them Softly

Best Unexpected Scotsman: Jim Sturgess, Cloud Atlas

Worst Use of a Sewer/Latrine: Les Mis (how does Marius not die of massive infections?)

Best Use of a Sewer/Latrine: Headhunters

Best Midnight Opening: The Hunger Games. The costumes. The facial hair. 

Best Throwback: Bond's Aston Martin

Best Prop: Marty's bong, Cabin in the Woods

Best Insect: The moor beetle, Wuthering Heights

Worst Insect: The mystical butterflies of Les Mis

Best Use of Sparklers: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on the oscar noms

Whatever other disappointments I have, I was so tickled pink to find that David O. Russell and Benh Zeitlin were in over Tom Hooper, I've just been happy all day.

A little sad that Quentin Tarantino wasn't in as well, but I do think Inglourious Basterds was probably his masterpiece and that not having his longtime editor on Django meant that the film wasn't quite as sharp as it otherwise could have been.

COMPLETELY thrilled with all the love for Silver Linings Playbook - including a huge surprise in Jacki Weaver for supporting actress! Yay Jacki Weaver!

And yay for Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva as the youngest and oldest best actress nominees! (*cough*no roles for middle aged actresses*cough*)

As many other commentators have pointed out, the noms bode well for Silver Linings, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour, and not so for Django, Les Mis, Zero Dark, and Argo. Which is too bad - I loved Argo, and I loved a lot of Django. And I think those two should be up for more than Life of Pi. Then again, I always think editing TENDS to line up with those with a better shot at a best picture win (not last year, though!) So really good for Silver Linings and maybe not so bad for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.

Other thoughts:
Disappointed that Looper was not in for original screenplay and Perks of Being a Wallflower was not in for adapted. *le Sigh*

Strange that Beasts didn't get a score nomination. 

It was a long shot, but sad that Freedom didn't make it in for best song. The song category I actually found quite weird. I don't think anyone predicted that right.

Pleasantly surprised that Pirates! made it in for animated over Rise of the Guardians. 

Sad for Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow. 

Sad that Cloud Atlas was entirely shutout.

I'm glad the noms didn't follow the DGA and SAGs, which I thought were not as good of choices.

All the supporting actor nominees are past oscar winners.

A little sad for John Hawkes, but not too surprised. I do think he was better in both Winter's Bone and Martha Marcy Mae Marlene. I'd say I like him better bad, but... Deadwood. 

No production nom for Moonrise Kingdom? You must be joking.

SHOCKED the Avengers isn't in for sound. 

Happy that Seamus McGarvey is in for cinematography. He does good work. Surprised that Django is in over The Master, which had been getting raves. (Thank god Les Mis didn't get in!!!)

Happy that Eiko Ishioka is in. I didn't think they'd do a posthumous nom for costumes, but it was well deserved.

So - how did I do? 89/122 (103/122 if you include first round alternates) [Ed update: Which finishes at 73 and 84% correct respectively. That beats my 2011 (71/82% correct) and 2010 (74/78%) picks, for which I added in any correct alternate. For such an unpredictable year, I did pretty damn well.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Predicting the Oscar Noms

I'm holding off on posting my own noms and top 10 list till the weekend, when I can see Zero Dark Thirty. But the oscar noms come out tomorrow and should be pretty exciting - the race is a bit more open and unpredictable than in past years! Yay! Let's see how we can do.

Best Picture:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Les Mis
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

If 8, Django Unchained
If 9, Moonrise Kingdom

Possible 10th: Amour, The Master, Skyfall, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Best Director:
Ben Affleck
Kathryn Bigelow
Ang Lee
David O. Russell
Steven Spielberg

Alternate: Quentin Tarantino. I refuse to discuss Tom Hooper.

Best Actress:
Jessica Chastain
Marion Cotillard
Jennifer Lawrence
Emmanuelle Riva
Naomi Watts

Aternate: Quevenzhane Wallis, Helen Mirren, Rachel Weisz

Best Actor:
Bradley Cooper
Daniel Day-Lewis
John Hawkes
Hugh Jackman
Denzel Washington

Alternate: Joaquin Phoenix

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams
Sally Field
Anne Hathaway
Helen Hunt
Nicole Kidman

Alternate: Maggie Smith

Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin
Robert DeNiro
Leonardo DiCaprio
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Tommy Lee Jones

Alternate: Christoph Waltz, Matthew McConaughey, Eddie Redmayne, Javier Bardem

Screenplay - Original:
Django Unchained
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Alternate: Flight, Amour

Screenplay - Adapted:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Silver Linings Playbook

Alternate: Life of Pi, Les Mis

A Royal Affair
War Witch

Alternate: Beyond the Hills, Kon-Tiki

The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Alternate: Mea Maxima Culpa,

Rise of the Guardians

Alternate: Hotel Transylvania (Or The Painting, if they decide to go all Chico & Rita, Cat in Paris on us)

Les Mis
The Master
Zero Dark Thirty

Alternate: Life of Pi, Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, Dark Knight

Life of Pi
Les Mis
The Master

Alternate: Anna Karenina, Zero Dark Thirty

Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Life of Pi

Alternate: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Skyfall, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom

Ancora Qui - Django Unchained
Learn Me Right - Brave
Suddenly - Les Mis
Skyfall - Skyfall
Abraham's Daughter - Hunger Games

Alternate: Everybody Needs a Best Friend - Ted, Freedom - Django Unchained (This should SOOOO be nominated), Fire in the Blood - Lawless (THIS SHOULD ALSO BE NOMINATED), Lawless Love - Madagascar 3, Still Alive - Paul Williams Sill Alive, Safe and Sound - Hunger Games, Breath of Life - Snow White and the Huntsman, From Here to the Moon and Back - Joyful Noise

Production Design:
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
The Hobbit
Les Mis

Alternate: Argo, The Master, Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas

Anna Karenina
Cloud Atlas
Django Unchained
Les Mis

Alternate: Mirror Mirror, The Hobbit, Snow White and the Huntsman. I feel like the Academy doesn't tend to go for costumes on foreign films, so probably not A Royal Affair.

Sound Editing:
The Avengers
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty

Alternate: Flight, Killing them Softly, Les Mis, Dark Knight

Sound Mixing:
The Hobbit
Les Mis
Zero Dark Thirty

Alternate: Django Unchained, The Avengers, Life of Pi, Dark Knight

Unless the Academy decides to totally double the Edit/Mix categories again.

Visual Effects:
Cloud Atlas
Life of Pi

Alternate: Battleship, Dark Knight, Skyfall

Les Mis

Alternate: Hitchcock, MIB3, Looper

It is so wrong that Cloud Atlas won't be up for this.

Short Documentary:
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
The Education of Mohammad Hussein

Alternate: Redemption

Short Animated:
Adam and Dog
Head Over Heels
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
The Eagleman Stag

Alternate: Dripped, Fall of the House of Usher, Combustible

Short Live:
when you find me

Alternate: Buzkashi Boys, A Fabrica, Salar

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Favorite vs. Best

So - I was just cleaning up the drafts folder of this blog, and came across this entry from 7/26/12. Not sure why I didn't post it... Anyhoo. Enjoy.

I'm only just getting around to listening to a Slashfilm podcast from the start of the year, recorded in the midst of top 10 lists and the Oscar race. In it, the group has a discussion of what a "top 10 films of the year" list means, or should mean. Do you list your favorite movies? Those that you think are objectively best? Is it possible to say which are objectively best - aren't all film critiques subjective to at least a degree? I know I'm far more likely to laud a film with beautiful cinematography. And say you could critique each film on some sort of objective scale (4/5 in sound editing, 3/5 in costume, etc.), isn't the end product - that complete package - that which ends up as your favorite, the real purpose of cinema? The whole shebang which speaks to you as a viewer?

The guys also discuss the Oscars, and what the intent is in voting for best picture. Are they voting for a film because they feel like they should? Because it was their favorite? Because they thought *that* film, above all others, advanced cinema in the last year? (Ha!) Dave Chen brought up the idea that the Oscars should only be voted on 50 years in the future, with the benefit of hindsight.

(Although I might argue that you'd still be subject to the vagaries of what's popular at the time; certain silent films are more in vogue now than they were in the 60s, for instance. After all, just looking at Sight and Sound's best film poll shows the changes in preferences from decade to decade. Not to mention, you might have lost certain films altogether after 50 years. Perhaps looking back at a decade works better? Then again, picking films from the final year in the decade is still awfully fresh and difficult to do.)

I do also like that idea of looking separately at which films advance the medium in any given year. It is certainly a different criteria than simply "best" films of the year.

Which leads me to think about the purpose of top 10 lists in general (and lord knows I love thinking about lists). What is the purpose of a top 10 list? Mine tend to be my favorite films of the year, although I have a tendency to split off those which I think of as "just fun" from those that I think of as more "high art." (See my awards where I pick top 10 best picture and top 10 best popcorn flicks.) And I keep the lists somewhat general, not knowing who will be reading them.

What I mean to say is, in specific cases, I might only recommend a film with a caveat. Or with something along the lines of "you might not like this (for x,y,z reason), but I really loved it." I do always want to recommend the things that have affected me. In part to have the chance to continue to talk about something I enjoy and in part to try to support artists who I think are doing good work. But mostly I think there's a fundamental urge to push upon others those things which have brought you joy. Rationally, I may know that Sally Smith might not like horror films, and that I'd be better off recommending a period drama. But I think some little serotonin processor in my brain is still going to want to rave about a great horror film. Because it made me happy, and I like Sally, and I want her to be happy. Even if objectively I know she'll be happier with Pride and Prejudice.

And I think sometimes the ego gets involved in terms of wanting to be the one who introduces someone to something good. Or knowing that your opinion is rated highly enough with others to influence their behavior. And I think film snobs, in particular, rail against a system where many well-made, interesting films are complete unknowns to people who don't obsessively follow movie news. So there is that push to be the town crier, alerting people to good work they may not know about otherwise.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The 13 Best Movie Swordfights

13. Jason and the Argonauts. Dude. They are fighting skeletons. From back before Army of Darkness.

12. The Court Jester. Silly, but kinda fun.

11. Although more people might think of the Adventures of Robin Hood, I like the fight in Captain Blood (even more Basil Rathbone!)

10. The Mark of Zorro (The Table!)