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.

Get your priorities straight…

The Chris Kyle murder trial was a huge deal near me.  It took place roughly 40 minutes from my house, and so that is all I heard about for months.  The murder itself was a big deal, but after the movie it was like our whole area capitalized on the success of the film in order to make this trial is BIG DEAL.  Regardless of your thoughts on war itself, there is no denying that Chris Kyle’s story is not only a fascinating one, but a profoundly poignant one.  I will never hide my neutrality.  I hate warfare and find it to be an unnecessary means and I am NOT ok with the way that this particular war transpired and progressed, but that is no disrespect to the men and women who lay their lives on the line for something they believe in.  Granted, not all are there for the right reasons (I literally had to sit at dinner for a week on a cruise with strangers, one of which was a marine, and hear them talk about how the only reason they would want to go to war would be to kill people), but for those who are there for a just cause, I can’t fault them their convictions.

Chris Kyle seems to have been there for the right reasons.

Still, ‘American Sniper’ takes those best of intentions and helps us to see why war is such a disastrous ‘means to an end’.  I only wish that it had developed those themes a little tighter.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


We all remember when the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were being read off to us and we got to the Animated Film category and…no one heard the name ‘The LEGO Movie’.  Actually, you may not remember it.  You see, the film was heavily considered the frontrunner to such an extreme that I personally didn’t notice the snub until a few minutes later when I was compiling my list of the nominees and I noticed I didn’t type ‘The LEGO Movie’ down in the list.  I did a double take, looked it up, and low and behold, it was indeed snubbed.

Outrage ensued.

I, personally, was pretty upset about it.  I was upset because I had seen three of the actual nominees (‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, ‘The Boxtrolls’ and ‘Big Hero 6’) and while I liked all of them to a certain extent (some more than others), ‘The LEGO Movie was a notch above the rest.  I was NOT upset because ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ and ‘Song of the Sea’ were nominated.  I had not seen those films, but I had read the raves, and I have no problem with foreign films sneaking in anywhere, so that was not a problem for me at all.  It was the American films I took issue with.

But, a lot of people didn’t look at it that way.  Did you happen to read the ‘Brutally Honest Oscar Voters’ comments from that year. 

And I quote:

“…for that movie not to be in over these two obscure freakin’ Chinese f***in’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw, that is my biggest b***.”

Ignorance people, ignorance.  I absolutely hate ignorance, but when  it comes from your craft then I hate it even more.  These are Oscar voters, which means they work or have worked in the industry.  Have some class.  Honestly, it shows that these voters consider Animated Films to be lesser works that are to be judged by their children (one voter actually stated that she let her children decide the winner) and not judged on the merit of what they contribute as a standalone film, and this is a shame.

Here’s the thing; ‘Song of the Sea’ is a better film than ‘The LEGO Movie’.  This isn’t a knock on ‘The LEGO Movie’ a film I found endlessly entertaining and extraordinarily clever, but ‘Song of the Sea’ is pretty close to absolute perfection and, in a just world, would have won the Oscar (I still haven’t seen ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’).

I wanted to love you...

Michel Gondry has directed one of my Top Three favorite films of all time; ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’.  I’m starting to feel like Gondry is a one-hit wonder.  I haven’t seen ‘The Science of Sleep’, although the reviews left me cold and I never felt drawn to it.  I did see ‘Be Kind Rewind’, which was…interesting.  It was fun, but it also felt forgettable.  ‘The Green Hornet’ had some sharp moments, but overall it was a thankless film.  I never even knew ‘The We and the I’ was made, so I guess I’ll need to check that one out (or will I?), and then we have ‘Mood Indigo’, a film that didn’t get very good reviews but managed to snag my attention with the visual look of the film.

So I was excited to see Gondry excite me again.

He didn’t.

Theatrical conversations of bipolar lovers and their semi-retarded conscience…

Liv Ullmann.  What a tremendous actress.  She was the muse of the great auteur Ingmar Bergman, and she earned that status by repeatedly delivering complex and shattering performances in films like Face to Face, Scenes from a Marriage, Autumn Sonata and Persona.  She is, without question, one of the greatest actresses who ever walked the earth.

Did you know she’s also a director?

Yeah, I knew this, and yet I still haven’t seen any of her work (she’s only directed 3 feature films, a segment in another film, a documentary and a television movie), until now.  Yes, my introduction to the world of Liv Ullmann ‘the director’ was with this little-seen (or is it just widely ignored) adaptation of ‘Miss Julie’.

I prefer Liv Ullmann ‘the actress’.

Thursday Movie Picks: Adaptations of Classic Literature

It's another Thursday (these come so quickly) and so that means it's time for Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks again!  If you aren't playing along you, yet you need to be.  Check out the schedule and get to picking movies, because this is just a lot of fun to be a part of.  So, this week was fun, albeit really challenging!  Challenging in a good way though, since there was a bounty of films to choose from.  The reason for that is the theme.

And the theme for this week is:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The 1987 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged by Clicking on Them]

1987.  This was a fun Oscar year, not because I feel like it was particularly strong, at least from Oscar's ballots, but because it was fun.  I mean, Oscar actually nominates a campy erotic thriller for Best Picture, gives Cher an Oscar and completely embraces one of the great foreign directors; Bernardo Bertolucci.  Not that I particularly agree with any of these choices (although I'm not adamantly against them either), but this is fun.  1987 is such a diverse year, too, which makes this all the more enjoyable.  There is something for everyone; from the aforementioned erotic thriller to the epic biopic to the snappy rom-com to the feisty fairy tale to the coming of age, the social commentary, the rich familial drama and so on.  Camp classics, foreign masterpieces and cult classics abound in a year that saw a handsomely made (yet overlong and overtly technical) film about China's final emperor take home top honors.  That doesn't happen here.  You know what does happen here though, and for the first (and maybe only) time; all of Oscar's Leading Ladies snag Fisti nominations (although not all of them are in the Lead category)!  So, with that I present to you the Fisti Awards for 1987!