Thursday, December 24, 2015

Am I mad for fearing a Mad Max snub?

I want to start by noting that I have still NOT seen this movie yet (I know, I know) and so this is in no way questioning the quality of deserving nature of the film that has pretty much been cemented as the film of the year by so many bloggers, critics and pundits, but merely a thought I've expressed a few times over the past month+ and just wanted to get off my chest and on paper.

I'm afraid that a Best Picture nom for Mad Max: Fury Road is not as certain as it would seem.

Here's the thing; there really is no precedent for something like this.  In scrolling through Oscar's ballots for BP, I can't come up with a film that could serve as a precedent for this kind of nomination; anywhere.  True, I haven't seen it, so maybe I'm missing something, but this kind of gritty, violent, comic-book stylized summer action tent-pole doesn't generally make waves with Oscar.  There have been close calls, or films that were seemingly in the running, but they've always fallen short.  In recent years we had films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Drive and even The Dark Knight make a dash for Oscar, and yet they've never quite made it.

Until now?

I'm not saying it won't happen, and in all honesty, I'm predicting it right now.  The critical support has been beyond any expectations, and bodies like The Globes and BFCA (but, like, they're complete jokes now, right?) are even embracing it, so the support is clearly there and the reviews are clearly there and the people want what the people want...but this is AMPAS, and they are not easily swayed to embracing the populous vote when it doesn't conform to what they like to reward.  

But this is a strange year, and in strange years there seems to be an opening for films that don't often register, or at least push the boundaries of what registers, with AMPAS.  Films this year that were clearly produced and aimed at the Oscar voting bodies are receiving their fare share of lukewarm reactions and tepid embracing and so that leaves a feeling of filler in the air.  But, sadly, Oscar is not above filler.  Look at 2011.  Critics bodies began to swarm around a film called Drive, specifically it's director, Nicolas Winding Refn (not unlike what is happening here).  Refn was winning left and right with critics, and collecting nominations from BFCA and BAFTA.  The film was high on MANY lists and getting showered with praise.  On Oscar nomination morning it walked away with a solitary Sound Editing nomination.  You know what was nominated for BP in it's place?  War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  That was also the same year that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a late bloomer and looked set to snag a BP nom in the last minute stretch of the race, and yet it missed as well, despite WINNING for Best Editing.

Oscar likes filler.  They like safe.  When they stretch outside of their box, whether it be in genre or themes, it is usually because of some sort of pedigree attached.  Mad Max: Fury Road, while savagely adored, doesn't really have pedigree.  George Miller has an Oscar, for directing one of the most criticized and loathed Oscar winning Animated Features of all time (probably the most hated) and is otherwise known for cult cinema, including the previous Mad Max films which have never really been taken seriously.

I just have such doubts.  The numbers don't lie, except for when they do, and while the numbers point to Mad Max: Fury Road being destined for TOP FIVE placement on Oscar's Best Picture did The Dark Knight's numbers...and then there was The Reader.

The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Carol, Creed, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight, Steve Jobs, Trumbo...some lauded, some filler, but all feel more Oscar than Mad Max: Fury Road and so the fear is...Oscar will think so too.

I have such doubts.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mouthi Awards Ceremony Page

So, in my absence from the blogging world, I found that while I didn't have time to watch a lot of movies (sadly), I did have time to do something else; listen to music.  Yes, equipped with Spotify on my phone (which was conveniently placed in my pocket) I was able to digest about 150 albums in three months.  This got me to thinking...why don't I have personal music awards?  Actually, this is all Josh's fault, truly.  Now, I don't follow The Grammys, but I do listen to music, and so there is no reason I shouldn't compile my personal preferences and share them with my blogging community.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Unlike The Grammys, The Mouthi Awards look at completed albums released within a calendar year; January - December, and singles released in years prior or after are only eligible in the year in which the album itself was released (unless it was formally released on an EP).  This means songs like Photograph by Ed Sheeran are not eligible in 2015 despite being released as a single in that year, since it was released on his album X from 2014 (and so it is eligible in that year).

On this page is where you'll find links to every completed Mouthi Awards (Fistful of Films...Mouthful of Music).  So far, the only completed year is 2015, but more will be coming, for sure, so check back here frequently to see if there are any updates.  The 2015 Mouthi Awards Ceremony (more on that in a second) will be posted on January 1st, and each new Mouthi Awards will follow the same pattern (hopefully), being posted on the 1st of every year.  All past years will come as they are completed.

Now, I said ceremony and that's what I meant.  I wanted to do something special to set these awards apart from the Fisti Awards, and so I decided to post these in faux ceremony form with presenters and speeches and all the above, so I hope it wasn't a waste of time and you do actually enjoy the format.

You'll be able to access this page at any time by clicking on the icon at the top right of the blog.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I'm back!

Well, it's about time!  I'll forewarn you, it may be slow going for a while.  We're still in the process of moving in and work is so backed up right now that I'm trying desperately to get my head above water, but I'm back and I'll be posting/commenting as much as I can (again, slow going for a while) until I'm finally back into the swing.

Hope you missed me!

Now...what did I miss?

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Fistful...of My 100 (and then some) Favorite Films!

So, it has come to this.  I've been avoiding this for the very reason that it's such a massive undertaking, and I'm watching something new almost every day, but there is always an edit button and so I've decided that this was the perfect way to take my (temporary) leave.  Yes, this is the last post you'll see from me for a while, since I'll be displaced and in transit and then on vacation and before I know it the end of the year will be upon us, but I'm hoping that come January I'll be back into the swing of things (maybe sooner).


I cheated a bit here.  This is not a list of exactly 100.  I couldn't do that.  As it is, the snubs are horrendous, and I know that come next week I'll probably have a new film or two that I wish I would have included, but narrowing this list was so hard that I had to bend the rules a bit.  Also, aside from my Top 10, this list is probably all over the place.  I mean, on any given day I could reorder this drastically and still be completely happy with it.  This is a list of 100 films (out of THOUSANDS) that I've seen that are the best of the best, and so there are mere slivers of difference in placement between #100 and #11; for real.

So here goes nothing.  Enjoy.  Comment.  Let me have it.  Agree...disagree...discuss...whatever you wish.  I will try my hardest to respond to all comments when I can get to a computer.  Until I can get back into the swing; goodbye...or shall I say, "See you later!"

Monday, October 12, 2015

That awkward moment…

…when you realize that your best friend is a psycho.  That happened to me this past weekend.  As I lounged in bed in a Las Vegas hotel room with my best friend (who surprised me with the trip Friday afternoon with a, “pack a bag, our plane leaves in three hours”), nursing a hangover and sipping a beer, we decided to watch a movie.  What we decided to watch was ‘Creep’…and as my best friend laughed and laughed and laughed I realized he was laughing because he knew that I knew that he knew this movie was about our friendship.  Every single thing that Josef does, my best friend has done (like, I’m not even joking…there is a comparison for EVERYTHING, including Peachfuzz) and will continue to do.  In fact, he literally pretended to stab me during the closing credits just to see that split second look in my eyes where I look like I want to kill him, because, as he noted, that was his favorite part of the film.  And I did jump, the same way I jumped about three weeks ago when he walked out of his bedroom with a shotgun and shot me…with a blank, but he shot me nonetheless, and for a split second I actually thought I was dead.

Why?  Why did I jump, when I’ve been best friends with this man for five years and I swear nothing he does surprises me?  I jumped because of that very reality.  Nothing surprises me…even the idea of him killing me.

OF COURSE I don’t think he’d kill me.  Like, I know he wouldn’t, at least I think I know, but you know…there is always that deeply buried thought that maybe, just maybe, he really is as crazy as he tells you he is.

And now Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice are also trying to tell me he’s crazy, and I’m a little worried.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A pirate and a fairy walk into a bar…

So, last night I took the kids to see Pan.  The buzz for this film (negative buzz, at that) has been insane since the film was announced.  Between the feeling of ‘fairy tale live action fatigue’ and the issue with ‘white washing’ and that terrifying (and quite alarming) Instagram post by Hugh Jackman to the idea of an origin story to a beloved classic to the feeling that Joe Wright is a gimmick of a director (a sentiment I do not share, but have heard many times), it felt like Pan was plagued with ill intent.

In other words; no one was going to like this.

And, much as I suspected, the initial reviews were quite savage, with critics armed with knives they’ve been holding for half a year tearing into this flick like it was the worst film ever made (and using puns that, like, made them sound seven years old).  I don’t care much for critics, to be honest.  Following the movie/Oscar game for quite a few years now, it’s become evident that once you get ‘paid’ to write a review, you start coming at things from a different perspective.  You start to suck. 

 Sitting in the theater last night, my little ones spread out around me in those really cool recliner seats that literally made me feel like I was watching this in bed, I started to wonder just why this was getting panned so severely.  It is flawed, I won’t deny that…but it’s also really good.  Like, it has so much going for it, which is also a tinge of a flaw (‘too many ideas’ syndrome) and yet those things it has going for it are so intriguing that even in the moments were I felt like someone probably should have yelled, “EDIT!”, I’m really glad they didn’t.

I’d rather take a messy film with too many ideas than an elegant film with none at all.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Semi-Final Oscar Predictions

I feel like such an Oscar loser this year.  UGH, I feel like a blogger loser, period.  I've been so lackluster here since July, all thanks to this big move (moving is SO STRESSFUL) and so I feel so far behind on everything.  LOL, my last Oscar predictions look like a batch of "no, no, nope" thanks to the fact that reviews, screenings and production notes have changed the face of the Oscar race so drastically over the past few months.

So, here we come to the last chance I'm going to get to update these predictions until the new year, which will be deep into the heart of the race, and so I'm calling these my semi-final predictions because, let's be honest here, I won't be updating these again until the night before nomination morning.

So what am I thinking?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Revenant Trailer: Or (why Chivo is going to win his third Oscar (back to back to back) this year)

Have you watched this yet?  Of course you have.  Everyone has.  I'm the last person to watch this, I know.  Listen, I don't know if anyone has ever (in any category) won three Oscars back to back to back (speak now Josh), and I know that everyone is groaning for Deakins to finally win (which isn't going to happen for Sicario), but I don't think that anyone could deny that Emmanuel Lubezki, while always a brilliant cinematographer, has been on the grandest of hot streaks this decade.  I've spoken my piece about my feelings on his Oscar win for Gravity, but even disregarding that film we're still left with The Tree of Life, To the Wonder and Birdman; all stunning work.

And now we have The Revenant.

I'm not going to lie, this looks like his best work to date.  BY A LOT.  The use of light, NATURAL LIGHT, the framing, the breadth of landscape captured coupled with such grand, sweeping movement and energy.  


And speaking of every frame; feast!

Monday, September 28, 2015

So, this is 47...

Naomi Watts turns 47 today.  Not only is she jaw-dropping in her absolute beauty, but she's one of the most talented and versatile actresses working today, and she only gets better and better.  The reality that this woman has yet to win an Oscar is shame enough, but the fact that she's only been nominated TWICE in her incredible career is probably the bigger shame.  In this disgusting day and age where women not named Streep fail to maintain their careers past 50, it's strange to think that time may be running out for this thespian to attain the highest of acting honors, but her youthful beauty and undeniable range may (hopefully) work in her favor.

So, while Oscar has so unjustly shunned her in the past, let's take a few minutes to bask in her talents and remember her best work!

Friday, September 25, 2015

1946 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1946.  This was a great year.  Even Oscar got a lot of stuff right.  The year was great even before 1945 stepped in and handed it some treasures.  Yes, due to the Fisti rule that any foreign film nominated for an Oscar must compete in the year in which it was nominated, there are quite a few 'technically' 1945 films that are competing here.  

One of which is my Best Picture winner.

But more on that in a minute.  First, let's talk about Oscar.  While the debate will continue to the end of time as to whether of not The Best Years of Our Lives should have defeated It's a Wonderful Life for Best Picture, the fact remains that both films are truly beautiful.  Personally, I feel that The Best Years of Our Lives IS the better film, while It's a Wonderful Life is understandably the more iconic feature.

They're both treasures, and that's the most important thing.

One thing that The Best Years of Our Lives was able to capture, and a clear reason as to why it won (and won SO MUCH) on Oscar night, was the state of the times.  It understood that, in that moment, the message it carried was a very important one.  In fact, with WWII just barely over, the welcome home of the men and women who defended the country was on the minds of every single person, and so the year became a bounty of films that tried to understand more fully the mindset, not only of the soldiers coming home, but also of the men and women standing at the front door to greet them.  

And that brings us to...another Lee Hirsch Award for Change!

Yes, with the war over, the incredible John Huston put together a series of PSA-Documentaries, and the final film in that series is a chilling look at PTS-Syndrom.  Let There Be Light is a film designed to help the general public understand that there is help for those soldiers returning home and that they can and should be accepted back into a normal way of life.  The fear to hire these young men and women was real, and so John Huston's powerful documentary served a real purpose and is still stirring even today.

Alright, alright, alright...let's get on with it!  I now present to you the Fisti Awards of 1946!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1990 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1990.  Well, I remember liking Dances with Wolves when I first saw it...and then I didn't really care anymore.  I remember finding Goodfellas overrated when I first saw it...and then I remembered it fondly.  Things change over time, and our perception of film and the way it rests on us changes as well.  

Is it a crime for me to say that Goodfellas losing the Oscar was not real big loss?  I mean, it's CLEARLY better than Dances with Wolves, but it's not Scorsese's best, despite the 'pop culture iconic' status, and it's not the best of the year (at least in my humble opinion) and so I'm kind of whatever on the whole thing.  But, eww at that lineup, right?  Ghost is so trashy and The Godfather Part III is so subpar.  Awakenings is actually quite tender and moving, but it's also such Oscar bait.  

This year was better than that.

You know what 1990 brought us?  The beginnings of two cinematic legacies of genius; The Coen Brothers and Wong Kar Wai (and yes, I know they both began their careers in the 80's).

I guess we should just get right into it; the Fisti Awards for 1990!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Trailer Break: The Jungle Book

So, these live-action Disney recreations are getting tiresome, I agree, but there is something in me that has been anticipating this ever since it was announced based on the voice-cast alone.  Like, Johansson, Nyong'o, Walken, Elba, Murray,, these are actors with GREAT voices, and so the idea of them using those in this setting seemed so perfect.  I've been a little skeptical as to how they were going to spin this into a live-action film with talking animals and not have it here it is.  The action looks sharp, the sets look dynamic, the visuals look remarkable and Scarlett Johansson's silky voice lacing the whole trailer is perfection.

But, yes, the most beautiful note at the end is Baloo whistling The Bare Necessities!

I'm all in for this.  I mean, this was kind of perfect, right?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Poster Break: It's Only the End of the World

So, Xavier himself posted this teaser poster for his upcoming Marion Cotillard collaboration on Twitter today and OMG!!!  This reminds me very much of the poster for Stranger by the Lake, which was glorious.  Unfortunately, that poster was the best thing about that movie.  Hopefully this won't be the case (who are we kidding, we know this movie is going to be delicious) here.

Happy Together: My Visual Reviews of Grandmaster Wong Kar Wai

Yup, it's time for more Visual Reviews.  I'm trying to get some posts scheduled so that, throughout my unfortunate absence, you won't forget about me.  This is one of them.  More will follow (I think).  What better way to remember me than by basking in some Visual Reviews.  What better subject than Shanghai born auteur, Wong Kar Wai.  There is no denying that Kar Wai's films are GORGEOUSLY framed, and because of that they lend themselves rather easily to these Visual Reviews.

So let's get started!

Friday, September 4, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: It's a Wrap!

Alright, it's the moment of the truth.  The incredible Britt, Wendell, Kevin and Jeffery have spent the better part of a year (believe me) researching this project and now we've reached that pinnacle moment when all will be revealed!  It's ranking time!!!

So, we have two things to rank.  First, we have individual years.  This is the complete score given to a group of winners.  Then we have all the individual films/scores and where they rank alongside the bounty of winners we saw.  

We have 56 films to rank!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: 2014

All good things must come to an end.  That is the bittersweet reality of this post right now.  We have reached the end of a very incredibly rewarding project, and that is killing me right now.  I'm glad it's over because we can now bask in the full glory of the project, but the discussions I have had with these bloggers about these films and these years and just everything has been so enjoyable and...UGH...I may cry, and I'm not joking, so I'm going to stop.

Yes, it's time to wrap up 4 Ways a Best Picture with discussion of 2014.

Let's just look at our panel and get into it.

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Trailer Break: The Danish Girl

Is your body ready?  Eddie Redmayne's is.  Listen, I'm going to level with you all here.  I am NOT a fan of Eddie Redmayne's Oscar win last year, not because Michael Keaton was so much better (I don't even nominate Keaton), and not even because Redmayne whored himself out for an Oscar, but I'm not a fan because his performance was emotionally vacant and undeserving of an Oscar.  It was a gimmick.  I don't hate Redmayne or find him devoid of talent (I've nominated him once before).  I don't care what anyone does in their personal life...what I care about is what they do in front (or behind) that camera, and what he did wasn't impressive to me.

This looks impressive.

He delivers more emotional character development in this trailer than he did in the entirety of The Theory of Everything, and Vikander looks incredible as well.  I'm all in for this.  It looks visually captivating, and emotionally stirring, and it's so topical and poignant and pretty much everything that everyone is talking about right now.

Oscar bait?  Yes.  

Worthy of our attention?  Yes.

Now, I've been saying this all year, and this trailer didn't change it for me.  Eddie Redmayne is easily the frontrunner for the Oscar this year, and unless this gets universal pans and he's nominated on gimmick alone, I don't see him losing.  Sure, Don Cheadle or Leonardo DiCaprio could make a play, especially if their performances receive raves and their 'dueness' becomes a real narrative this year, but this performance/character/subject seems really, really ripe to snag Redmayne the gold.

I just hope he's truly deserving this year.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

1955 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1955.  Guess what...I kind of LOVE Marty.  I was baffled when I first saw it that it was a film that has accumulated so much backlash over the years.  I mean, what did you want to win?  That lineup is absolute crap outside of Marty, if we're going to be honest.  Mister Roberts was one of the dullest times I've ever spent in front of my television, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing is so trashy-dull (yes, DULL) and Picnic is, once again, DULL.  Like, what was AMPAS smoking?  There is nothing worth adoring about these films at all.  The Rose Tattoo is pretty good, and contains a GREAT performance from Magnani (who won the Oscar), but the whole Lancaster perf is so silly and the character is so ridiculous that I can't say the film is great or anything and certainly not Best Picture worthy.

Marty, amidst these contenders, stands out as something special.  It's intimate and heartfelt and leaves a lasting impression, and Borgnine's performance is just so richly complex.

And yet, it's not on my ballot.

Yes, the year as a whole is rather incredible.  So many brilliant films with such range of genre, style, substance and impression.  From rich melodrama, horror, suspense, romance, comedy and the recreation of the film noir, 1955 is everything I ever wanted it to be, and more.  So, with that said, I now present to you the Fisti Awards of 1955!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1988 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1988.  Let's get one thing out of the way first; Rain Man is kind of a weak winner.  I mean, it's NOT a bad film, but it's far from great or anything, and in a year with such rich cinematic diversity, it's a shame that a film that so obviously pandered to 'Oscar' wound up taking home top honors.  I would honestly rank if fifth in the lineup.

But that's just one aspect of a pretty awesome year.

As a point of interest, Cinema Paradiso was my winner here for the longest time, but because of my rule regarding foreign film (it will be eligible for Fistis the same year it is NOMINATED for Oscars), I had to move it to 1989.  So, with it's absence came a rather wonderful development.  1988 became the year of the Animated Film here at the Fisti Awards.  Yes, 1988 is a bounty of animated work, and they come through and SLAY with nominations and wins (a lot of wins).  Out of 17 awards, 10 of them go to an Animated Film of some sort.  AND, 1988 boasts the first official animated BP winner here at the Fistis!

So, with that in mind, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1988!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Origin of an Auteur Blogathon: Xavier Dolan

John over at Hitchcock's World has come up with a really interesting blogathon that I just had to jump all over.  Unfortunately, circumstance (my imminent move) looked as if it was going to get in the way of my participation, but fortunately for me, I had pre-chose a subject for which I was not only familiar but had already written extensively about.

The blogathon is titled Origin of an Auteur, and the rules are as follows:

1) Pick one director and identify his or her first feature film. It must be the first feature film (i.e. over one hour runtime) listed in her/his filmography. 
2) While you will be primarily discussing that one film, you should have an understanding at least some of the director's later films, enough to be able to recognize his or her style. 
3) Analyze your chosen film in relation to the director's later projects. What elements of his or her style do you see here? 
4) Keep in mind that this blogathon is based on critical thinking and analysis, not simply on whether you liked the film. Your post should not be so much on the film itself as what it says about the director. 
5) Repeats (i.e. two people writing about the same director and film) are acceptable, but discouraged. If you do choose a topic someone else is writing about, try to find something different to say on the subject. 
6) Include a banner and a link back to this post. There are several banners to choose from below, and you are permitted to create your own provided they fit the blogathon's themes.
So, let's get started.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Actresses of Color Who Deserve 'Better' Careers...

The image above may be startling, but it's an image that I think perfectly captures why these kinds of posts are important.  Actresses come in all shapes, sizes and colors and yet it's pretty consistent that the whiter, thinner and younger you are, the more prominent you'll be in the Hollywood community.  We've discussed this before, starting when I posted my Ten Most Interesting Actresses in Hollywood post, which lead to The Fisti Recast-athon.  And now Wendell over at Dell on Movies has constructed a list (which led to another) about Actresses of Color Who Deserve Bigger Careers.

So, of course I wanted to play along and give my own list, but I'm cheating a bit.

First, I'm not limiting myself to ten, because, well, NO...and I'm changing one word in Dell's post to incorporate a few actresses that I think deserve something 'better'.  Yup, I'm not just talking 'bigger' careers here...I'm talking better ones.

Let's get started:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Oscar Redo-a-thon!

I'm going to get crap for this, I'm sure of it.

Ok, so Matt over at Film Guy Reviews is hosting his very first blogathon entitled Oscar Re-Do, and despite the hectic moving schedule going on over here, I really wanted to lend my support.  Thankfully, this is a subject I'm very well versed in, considering that I have my very own personal awards (The Fistis) and so I'm used to 'redoing' Oscar.

Here are the official rules:
1. You must only pick one film from one year. 
2. When nominating it in different categories, you must take out one actual nominee to make room for yours. 
3. After including it in each category you chose, give a short blurb as to why you would've entered it in the different categories that you chose and why you would've nominated it over the nominees that you replaced. 
4. It can be a film that is already nominated. But one that only has about one or two. 
5. After posting on your blog, you can post the link in the comments section of this page or tweet me @filmguy619.
Now, there are a lot of films I love that Oscar pretty much shut out, but I wanted to stick to a year and a film that I've already posted here so that you have a reference for my passionate appreciation of the film.  So, despite thinking that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the greatest films of all time, I decided NOT to feature it since the 2004 Fisti Awards are not yet posted here.  And, even though I do feel like Mommy should have been nominated for pretty much every Oscar out there, I've talked enough about that film recently (and it's going to continue soon), so I opted to NOT discuss that film, even though the 2014 Fistis are up.

So, what did I go with?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Against the Crowd Blogathon!

Alright.  So...I'm pretty swamped, but my buddy Wendell is hosting his Against the Crowd Blogathon for the second year in a row, and since I really wanted to participate last year but wound up missing deadline, I decided I NEEDED to give it a go this year, despite my schedule.  

Also, I get to have one of my favorite debates: the whole 'why is Forrest Gump considered a good film?' debate!

Oh, this is going to be fun.

So, here are the official rules straight from the Wendell's mouth:
1. Pick one movie that "everyone" loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have a score of at least 75% on Tell us why you hate it. 
2. Pick one movie that "everyone" hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of less than 35% on Tell us why you love it. 
3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies. 
4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own.
Pretty simple, right?

Let's kick things off with your good, my bad:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: 2013

Alright guys, it's time to talk 2013.  We're nearing the end of 4 Ways a Best Picture (just one more week), and we've got some great film discussion in store for you this week and next (hopefully next, but that all lies in the hands of CITIZENFOUR's availability).  Until then, though, let's get into the disagreements, debates, rants and relishing praise of the Oscar year that was 2013!

Before we begin, reacquaint yourself with our panel:

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Friday, August 7, 2015

Poster & Trailer Break: By the Sea

Yes, I know that last year I stanned for months for Angelina Jolie's Unbroken and saw that fizzle at Oscar's feet, but this isn't about Oscar this time...this is about the pure drama of it all!!!  This looks so melodramatic it hurts, but in a blissfully, passionate and obsessive kind of way.  Just watch it!

The word around this movie has been spread for a year now, since this is an original script penned by Jolie that apparently features some VERY explicit sex/nudity between her and hubby Brad Pitt, and so there is obvious interest piqued because of that alone, but this Old Hollywood throwback looks seriously rich, and I personally can't wait to consume it.

The fact that they dropped this trailer/poster combo on the same day that Aniston announced she was married was...kind of amazing.

The Film Emotion Blogathon!

Connor over at Conman at the Movies is hosting his first blogathon, and it's a fun one!  The basic concept for the blogathon was inspired by Pixar's latest masterpiece, Inside Out, and since I'm a HUGE FAN of the film, I couldn't help but feel compelled to play along, despite my busy schedule.

Here are the rules:

1.) Pick five films to represent the five emotions in Inside Out. The criteria for choosing these films is listed below. I would be willing to allow a tie, if you couldn’t decide between two films to best represent one of the emotions.
2.) Write out five paragraphs, (one for each film) talking about the movies and why you chose them.
3.) Post them on your blog (or Tumblr or whatever).
4.) Send me the link by posting it here in the comments.
Connor breaks down what he's looking for with each specific emotion as well.  Basically:

Joy: A film that makes you happy
Sadness: A film that made you cry A LOT
Fear: A film that gave you nightmares
Anger: A film you hate with a passion
Disgust: A film that left an awful feeling in your stomach

So, let's get right into this!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: 2012

It's that time of the week again!  Yup, time for another entry in the 4 Ways a Best Picture Blogger's Roundtable!  This week we discuss the year that was 2012...and it's the first year where two of our winners actually TIE.  Yup, two films get doled out the same score.  Good?  Bad?  Somewhere in the middle?

You'll have to read to find out.

But first, here's our panel:

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2014 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

2014.  My GOD this decade just gets better and better with each passing year.  2014 may honestly be one of the best cinematic years in the history of cinema.  It also marks possibly the best Oscar winning Best Picture in decades.  Yes, this was a year where Oscar got it right.  Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is one of the very Oscar decisions in my personal Oscar watching, and I'm so happy that Oscar made that choice in the end.

But we all know that it's not my choice.

No, Birdman is one of the very best of the year, but it's not the best (in my humble opinion).  Yes, 2014 is the year that I walked out of a theater, threw my hands up in the air and said, "Why bother anymore; cinema has just been conquered."  Xavier Dolan's Mommy is the single best film I've ever seen; perfection personified, and in all honesty it made me consider changing this site's name to A Fistful of Dolan and changing these awards to The Dolans...but I'm too vain for that.

With the inevitable Mommy slayage in mind, I present to you the Fisti Awards for 2014!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Poster Break: The Danish Girl

There will be no getting around the insufferable Eddie Redmayne and his inevitable campaign this year for back-to-back Oscar wins, but all that aside, I'm really looking forward to this film.  It's a topical and important discussion for our times, and the role is certainly a plum one and so I won't begrudge him the win, if it is deserved.

But, let's forget the Oscar mess for a minute and talk about the poster!  This is stunning!  Obvious Persona comparisons here, but I love the vintage photograph feel and the way that this is framed, almost like the passing of secrets between these two women.  The look on Redmayne's face, almost of cautious wonder, contrasted with the sultry 'knowing' in Vikander's eyes is so sharply relevant to the struggle for Redmayne's character to become 'herself'.  The soft focus, the sepia tones, the EVERYTHING!!!

That's what I think...what do you think?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2013 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

2013.  My daughter uses this phrase that I kind of hate.  She is always saying, "That's beyond, beyond" and what she means by that is that it's extra amazing.  That is how I feel about this year.  So many spectacular films that reach so many themes and genres and pretty much redefine what cinema is supposed to be about.  It is also a year that breaks a rule here at the Fistis (as you have come to see, rules are made to be broken) in that the 'five nominee' rule is thrown out the window in Best Picture, where I have nominated six films.

But I have reason for this.

When compiling my list of the best films of 2013, one thing struck me so profoundly.  My ballot was extremely diverse.  Foreign film, animation, documentary, sci-fi, comedy, drama, gay/lesbian/transgender, musical, quirky indie; you name it, they were represented, and when it came down to knocking one of these films out of the top, I just couldn't.

And so I didn't.

Oscar went with the historical biopic, 12 Years a Slave, and I genuinely like the film, but it is flawed and doesn't come close to my personal top dozen films.  With that in mind, I present to you the Fisti Awards for 2013!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: 2011

Well, after that two week absence, we're back with another episode of 4 Ways a Best Picture.  I want to thank you guys for continuing to read these, and to comment with your thoughts.  It means a lot of me and I know to the rest of the panel.  Speaking of this panel...I want to thank them for continuing to just talk movies with me!  

So, before we indulge in the year that was 2011, let's check out our panel again:

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unfortunate Blog News

Get ready to hate me.

So, the past few weeks have been CRAZY, and by crazy I literally mean that I feel like I'm going absolutely crazy.  What was once a very scheduled and almost routine life (you know, as routine as one can get with three children and two jobs) has been completely turned upside down by opportunity knocking and ringing the doorbell and eventually breaking the door completely down and bursting into the house.  

Yeah, that kind of opportunity.

Anyways, long story shortened, I'm moving.  Sadly, that means that this blog is going to be...sort of dead for a while.  I'm sure you've noticed that I didn't participate in Thursday Movie Picks today, and I'm really sad to say that I won't be able to anymore, at least not this year.  This has been a really hard decision for me to make, but I had to make it.  Even as I'm typing this, my impulse is to delete these entire post and start thinking of sequels for this week's theme.  I LOVE blogging.  Realizing that I have to take a step back right now is hard, but there is no other way around this.  I have way too much on my plate right now.

So, here's the deal.  I'll be wrapping up 4 Ways a Best Picture with some of the best blogging buddies ever (we have four years left to post) and I'll be working to get the 2013 and 2014 Fisti Awards posted...but that's about all this blog is going to be worth until January.  Yes, that means no Oscar coverage this year (I hate me right now) and no more Fistful of Thoughts and no more Thursday Movie Picks and no more reviews and MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING!?!?!

I will still be popping by to see you guys when I can and leaving you comments and please don't forget about me.  I'll be back...I promise!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2012 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

2012.  This was a good year.  I started actively predicting Oscars back in 2011, after getting extremely involved with predicting the 2010 Oscar season (in the heat of the season) and 2012 was the year that I correctly predicted the Oscar winner back in April.  I actually think I missed it and then made an amendment because I forgot Argo was coming out and then someone asked me "what do you think about Argo?" and I was like, "OH YEAH!!!  ARGO IS WINNING!!!"


I'm not saying that this win was a good thing, though.  The win itself is so safe that it's rather bland and, at the end of the day I remember nothing about Argo other than it was fine and I have no desire to watch it again and remind myself that it's...fine.

You know what was more than fine?  The year in general!  Yeah, 2012 was a pretty great year for films, and while I'm sure that not all of my picks will resonate with you guys (I adore a film that gets a lot of vitriol from bloggers and friends), there is a lot to love here and dig in leave your thoughts, which I can't wait to read!  So, with that I present to you the Fisti Awards for 2012!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Rise of Elle Fanning!

Jessica Chastwho?  Alicia Vikanwhat?  Jennifer Lawwhy?  All these young actresses who burst onto the scene with a slew of successful films that become the talk of the town and yet, from what I've seen, none of them can hold a candle to what a certain young actress is doing with her career.  Yes, I've made it pretty well known here that I am in full support of all things Elle Fanning, and the other day while browsing IMDB I happened to see her roster of films for the next two years, and I have to say that this girl is KILLING IT.  Not that she wasn't already, but her resume is rapidly becoming one of the most impressive in all of Hollywood.

Let's just break this down for a minute.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 7: Eyes on the prize...

Let's wrap up these mid-year predictions with a look at my ridiculous assumptions as to who will win.  I know that there is no point to any of this, and yet...I want to do it, so indulge me.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 6: Can anything beat Inside Out?


Here are my predictions for Animated Film, re-titled 'Inside Out and the losers'.

Animated Film
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
Little from the Fish Shop
The Little Prince
Shaun the Sheep: The Movie

This category can be tricky.  There are some films that feel like frontrunners and then...they go missing.  We saw this happen two years now, with Monsters University feeling like the early favorite...then tepid reviews made it feel like a solidified filler nom...and then it was snubbed for...The Croods?  Then last year we saw The LEGO Movie clean house everywhere and then go missing on nomination morning.  Oscar loves to reward artistic flicks with creative designs and beautiful storytelling...and they love Disney and Pixar (most of the time).  They like claymation and they tend to snatch up those little foreign films that no one wants to predict.

And, because I feel like it, here are the trailers for the films I'm predicting;

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies

It's Thursday (actually it's Friday, of last week) and so that means it's another episode of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  I'm out of town, so this is coming to you thanks to busting ass last week and getting a it scheduled!  

You can thank me later.

Anyways, this was an interesting one because this week's theme comes with a stipulation to make it more...challenging, and that stipulation really challenged me since my mind went to the very place it told me I couldn't go.

This week's theme is:

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 5: Let's get technical...

So, now it's time to muse over what I think will and won't be nominated in the technical categories.  At this point in the year, there are so many unknowns that it makes it hard to pinpoint what is going to make an impression on Oscar.  We know that they love period pieces, and we know that a BP nom really does mean something with Oscar as far as the way it splinters into other categories.  We've seen many an undeserving nom in a category rich with potential because Oscar liked a movie more.

So, what are we thinking?

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 4: You can't fix bad writing...

Moving along in our assumptions, let's talk about scripts.  We all know that every great film starts with an idea that is accompanied by a pen and a pad.  Without that script, a great film cannot be made.  Sure, there are films that survive minimal scripting due to visual dynamics or an impressive cast, but bottom line is that if your story is dumb or your dialog is awful or your characters are unlikable then no amount of lipstick is going to make it pretty.  So, a script is very important and usually tied directly to a film's chances at Best Picture the following predictions shouldn't surprise you at all.

I'll give you a's an even split so all ten predicted screenplays come from Best Picture predictions.

And here's why:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 3: The actors and the directors who love them...

Next up, let's discuss the races that I personally find the most fun to mull over, pick apart, bitch about and swoon over; the actors and directors!  There is so much potential in these categories this year, with real bait to chomp on all over the place, so let's take a look at these categories one by one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt. 2: The Top Ten

Alright, so I wanted to break this down a little bit as far as my predictions so that I could spend a little time explaining why I'm predicting certain things.  First things first, let's talk about Best Picture.  There are many, many possibilities, and like you saw in the last post, there are ten contenders (and they could wind up being serious contenders) that I'm not predicting right now, so the possibilities are quite vast at the moment.  Still, there are ten films that, for me, seem like safer bets for one reason or another, and so I'm going to discuss them here, in order how how I perceive their likeliness to be.

Updated Oscar Predictions Pt 1: On the outside, looking in...

It's July, so it's time to update the Oscar predictions for the year.  I wanted to take a minute first to address a few films (ten, to be exact) that I'm flirting with embracing but am still standoffish on for one reason or another.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Here's the schedule...

That gif may as well be video footage from my camera right now, since I've been on the road since 3AM, making the long trek to Florida to check out a potential new...home?  What the hell am I doing?  Anyways, it was a last minute (like, a week ago) decision for the wife and I to possibly pack up and move (opportunities rarely make themselves convenient) and so we're off for the week (bleeding into next), but I've made sure that I'm leaving you with a bunch of stuff to read.

Yup, I scheduled like crazy.

So, in my absence, you can read mu updated Oscar predictions, some Thursday Movies Picks and a couple other posts filtered in here and there.  All starting tomorrow!

What you won't 4 Ways a Best Picture...not for two weeks.  Compiling our conversations is a lot of work, and I didn't have the time (nor was I about to rush conversation just to finish early) to get it all together before packing up and shipping out, so you'll have to wait until July 28th to read about our take on the year that was 2011.

Until then, read and comment all you like.  I won't be near a computer, but I'll be tweeting from my phone during my trip, so I hope to see you there...and when I get home I'll be sure to respond to all comments left in my absence.

I'll miss you guys!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Being Spike Jonze: a visual review of a modern auteur!

I just had a weird epiphany.  Spike Jonze may be my favorite director working today.  I mean, we all know that Xavier Dolan is my favorite filmmaker...but I've made it clear that Dolan's auteur ascendance is a combination of brilliant ideas finding their voice in a very unique landscape that doesn't always mesh completely (his highs are higher than anyone else's, but he has some lows).  Spike Jonze has only made four feature films since delivering his debut back in 1999 (like, what?) and all four of them are, in one way or another, perfect.  While Dolan is probably my most rewarded modern filmmaker (because of having hands all over his films, from writing to directing to editing to costuming, he's wracked up 9 Fisti nominations and 6 wins, ATM), Jonze holds a pretty big Fisti record.

All four of his films are BP noms.  

Yes, all four of his films are deemed, by me, to be Top Five in their given years, and two of them actually win BP (he shares that with Dolan).

I guess I really love this guy, and it's funny because I didn't really know that until earlier today.  Like, I knew that I liked him and I obviously knew that I really liked his films (one in particular is one of my all time favorite films), but when I think of modern filmmakers that really excite me, my mind goes (after Dolan) to names like Fincher and Coppola and Wright...but...Jonze may actually be a favorite I didn't know I had.

I feel a list coming on.

Anyways, in thinking of his perfect filmography, I thought to's time for another batch of Visual Reviews!!!  It's been too long.  For those of you unfamiliar, this is when I take a director's entire resume and I review their work using stills from their films.  

Let's do this!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4 Ways a Best Picture: 2010

We are getting to the end of this thing.  Now we're crossing over into the current decade, which means that (this week included) we only have five discussions left.  This is exciting (nearing the end and the final ranking) and also sad, since I've had such a wonderful time with these incredible bloggers just talking movies!

But let's not dwell on the negative (yet...because there is a lot of negative to chew on below).  Instead, let's be happy and get all excited for the conversation below.  This year saw a lot of variations in our views of these films.  One film in particular had ecstatic reviews from 3 of our five panelists, while another received nothing short of a verbal assault by 4 of us...and then glowing praise!


Before you dig in, here is our panel:

Britt from Rambling Film
Drew (me, duh) from A Fistful of Films
Jeffery from jdbrecords
Wendell from Dell on Movies

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about talking asses, shattered dreams, piqued interest and the murderer of love!

I missed last week due to a crappy weekend and made my Monday feel like hell, but I'm back this week due to a nicely paced and refreshing weekend of relaxation and fun to talk to you about a bunch of stuff (some of which I had lined up for last week) in this week's episode of A Fistful of Thoughts!

We got some juicy stuff to talk about!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Red rover, red rover, send Martin Luther King Jr. right over…

I feel bad for ‘Selma’.  Initially intended for a 2015 release, the post-production was pushed through in a seemingly weak year and the hype machine built this film as the socially important film of the year and immediately the faith the studio had in its Award’s chances started to seep into the prognosticators fingertips and, before it was shown to the world, it became the film to beat.  Then it was seen and reviewed and the response to the film was tepid, to say the least.  The social relevance was obviously seen and the importance of the message was heard loud and clear and yet, the film itself wasn’t warmly embraced.  Then Oscar season heated up and the word ‘racist’ started getting thrown around and the fight for this film became ugly, even though it had no chance to pull a win away from the two clear frontrunners.  When the nominations were announced, and ‘Selma’ managed the BP nom and…a Song nomination, the film in a way became a joke.  Its BP status was immediately questioned (no writing, directing, acting…not even a costume nod!) due to the fact that it was clear it wasn’t really liked that much.  This was a case of ‘we nominated you here because we had to’ and not a case of ‘we think you were one of the best films of last year’ and because of that, ‘Selma’ kind of has this stigma around it.

Like I said, I feel bad for ‘Selma’.  I was one of exploited that stigma after the nominations were announced.

I’ve seen the film now (I hadn’t seen it then) and at the end of the day, the fact remains that ‘Selma’ was not one of the best films from 2014.

It’s also not a joke, which is why the whole Oscar BP nom, in a way, hurts this movie.  If the film had just been regarded for what it was (or given the extra few months to hone and develop better and then been released, as intended, in 2015), then I think the film itself would have a better reputation.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

But enough about all that, let’s talk about the movie.