Top Ten Movies of 2010

Let me just start by saying that I really couldn’t ask for a better year in film. 2010 offered many beautiful works of art that I shall watch for years to come. That being said, it was all the more difficult to make this list based on that fact. It can always be pretty difficult making a top ten list because you always find yourself second guessing yourself and making my list of my favorite films from this year was a prime example of that occurring often. I finally was able to do it though and here it is:

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

In all good conscious I couldn’t make this list without putting Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on it. Of course this film isn’t a piece of cinematic artwork that can be considered a “masterpiece”. What it is though, is a blast. Its almost impossible not to just sit down with a couple of friends and have an awesome time watching this movie. Its absolutely hilarious with out the use of vulgarity and it never fails to entertain.

9. Shutter Island

I have a feeling that due to its release date, this film will be overlooked by the Academy, but that doesn’t change the fact that Shutter Island is a spectacular film. There’s not much else you can expect from Martin Scorsese, but this film truly blew me away. Quite honestly, this is one of the greatest depictions of mental instability ever put on screen. Shutter Island is a film that everyone seemed to forget about, but I was never able to.

8. The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech is such a fascinating feel-good film that never lets up and always keeps your full-fledged attention. In a film that could easily fallen flat and felt dry, you get fantastic performances in order to entertain from beginning to heart-wrenching end. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush make a perfect pair and you find that both are performing to the absolute best of their abilities. The King’s Speech is simply a film that will please. I promise.

7. Toy Story 3

The films of pixar have never let me down. I love every last one of them, but I wasn’t sure what I should expect from Toy Story 3. Though I did love Toy Story 2, I would have to say that it was my least favorite of the pixar films so I wasn’t as excited for Toy Story 3 as I was for their future tales of originality. Needless to say, Toy Story 3 blew me away. It is my favorite of the series and one of the few films in history to actually bring me to tears.

6. A Prophet

Technically this film came out last year and was a huge hit at Cannes, but it wasn’t available for popular viewing until this year so I put it into consideration for my list this year. A Prophet is nothing short of a gritty masterpiece and a crime tale that can be held to the caliber of any before it. A Prophet actually finds a way to be perfectly epic, while sticking to the realism and brutality of prison life. The tale of Malik’s rise in a crime-driven french prison is one I will watch and enjoy for many years to come.

5. Black Swan

Black Swan is so brilliantly unique in its substance that it’s almost impossible not to draw interest from it. Black Swan is so relentless in its execution that you truly never want to take your eyes off the screen. While the film pushes the envelope for all the right reasons it still manages to find a way to be breathtakingly beautiful. A film of this caliber is the only thing you could expect when you combine Darren Aronofsky and the brilliant prowess of Natalie Portman. Black Swan is a film that, based on its content, cannot go unnoticed.

4. True Grit

It’s always a breath of fresh air to see good western come out nowadays, but True Grit is more than good. True Grit is a masterpiece and one that I feel should and will breath life into a dying genre. True Grit is a light-hearted and real look into the west. It was a simple enough tale, but a tale that was told to perfection. To put it simply, True Grit is a prime example of every piece of the puzzle that is film, fitting together perfectly. That might be due in part to the fact that it was reinforced by brilliant performances and directed by the greatest minds working in the industry.

3. Inception

I could write a short novel on what makes Inception one of the greatest movies, just in general, but I’ll keep this a little shorter. Inception isn’t a story that would’ve been nearly as good in book form, its not a tale I could’ve retained from a picture or a song. Inception is a movie made specifically for its artistic medium and it is a true example that my favorite art form is not only alive, but always will be because truly amazing films are still being made today. Inception is a gift that I accept with open arms.

Inception is a reminder to the James Cameron’s of the world, and the 3D generation they’re helping to create, that great films are based on soul and passion. They’re not based on how much money you can spend to make your action sequences. They’re based on love for the art of telling a story through a camera. Inception is an example of what an amazing film is. What else could you possibly expect from Christopher Nolan?

2. The Social Network

I know the King’s Speech won the Oscar, but if any one film is remembered from 2010, it will be the always spectacular The Social Network. Like The Godfather, which tells a beautiful tale of family and power while masking its themes beneath a tale of gangsters, The Social Network tells a beautiful tale of friendship, corruption and betrayal, while masking its reverent ideals with plot about facebook. The Social Network is not a film about facebook, it’s a film about humans and their nature and it is absolutely breath-taking.

What makes The Social Network so much greater than so many films before it, and keep in mind I’m not implying just this year, is that there is so much you can get out of this masterfully told tale. You’ve got the obviously topical and fascinating plot, but beneath that you’ve got a relentless character study of the protagonist, Mark Zuckerberg and on top of that, thematically you get a timeless morality tale that has been told many times in the past and will be told many times in the future. It was never this fantastic though and I have my doubts that it ever will.

1. 127 Hours

A common expression when commenting on a film is that “it’s hard to put into words why I love this film so much” or something along those lines. I’m fairly certain I’ve used it myself at some point, but it has never been more true when I say it here. It is hard to put into words, exactly what makes 127 Hours one of the greatest films in history and that’s mostly based solely on the fact that 127 Hours isn’t a film you watch, but one you experience.

Like The Lord of the Rings, which takes you on an incredible journey with Sam, Frodo and all kinds of memorable characters, 127 Hours also takes you on a journey, but a very different kind. 127 Hours takes you on an emotional journey, arguably the greatest ever, with climber Aron Ralston. There are few films in history that touch on an emotional level to the caliber that 127 hours is able to because it honestly makes you feel every emotion you could think of at all the right times. With brilliant direction by Danny Boyle and the greatest performance of the year by James Franco you get  a truly phenomenal look into sheer pain, imminent death and an eventual feeling of pure solace.

127 Hours shows the power of truly flawless filmmaking and exactly what a movie can do to you. It’s a testament to human will and shows us that just because you’re breathing doesn’t mean that you’re living. It is able to establish perfectly, that life is fragile and precious, so live it up today because you never know what could happen tomorrow. 127 Hours is a true example of a masterpiece in every sense.

True Grit Review

True Grit was a film that I walked out a bit disappointed with to say the least. It was a film I saw at the midnight premiere and walked out a bit downtrodden because what I saw wasn’t the movie I expected to see at all. Looking back over True Grit I began to do what all of the Coen Brother’s movies force me to do. I began to think. In my pondering over the past few days after seeing what was for me the most anticipated movie of the year, I realized yes, True Grit wasn’t the movie I was expecting to see, it was better.

Before delving deep into that conundrum and my review I’d like to state that I’ve never seen the original True Grit nor have I read the original book. I went in completely blind and will review this movie based on the movie it was not how well it followed the book or original John Wayne movie. That being said, True Grit, like almost all Coen Bros. films, was a masterpiece. I just didn’t quite realize it at first.

Now when I said, I went in expecting something different, that obviously begs the question, what did I expect? What I thought True Grit would be, was some kind of guns blazing, dark look into the west. A movie that would kind of mirror the themes of No Country for Old Men, but in the west. A western that might even surpass my favorite western, Unforgiven. What True Grit was, was actually one of the most light-hearted of the Coen Bros. films and on top of that, one of the most light hearted westerns I’ve seen.

Sure there was some gunplay, but for the most part, it was dialogue driven. It was a film that cared not about its action, but its story. We get to know these characters well and join them on their journey of “retribution”. Maybe True Grit isn’t the greatest western or all time and maybe its not the most enjoying, but it is undoubtedly the most real. Its not a western that’s looking to tell of a journey through the west complete with different villains, escapades and epic showdowns. It’s a film that makes you feel as if you’re right there on a horse having a whiskey with good ol’ “Rooster” Cogburn.

It was a film written and directed as well as a movie can get. I can’t expect much else from my favorite filmmakers in existence. Jeff Bridges was downright brilliant in what might just be my favorite role of his. The main character though was newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, there’s nothing profound about her performance that I’m sure you haven’t read anywhere else suffice it to say, from what I was reading, I expected a lot and she blew me away.

Early I stated that it was “better” than what I was expecting it to be. I’d like to jump into that comment a little more. I explained that what I expected was kind of a combination of my favorite western, Unforgiven and my favorite Coen Bros. film, No Country for Old Men. That’s a lot to expect out of a film. No I’m not saying that True Grit is “better” than either of those films. I am merely saying that it’s “better” that True Grit was the movie that it was.

I realized in my pondering that I don’t want True Grit to be No Country for Old Men because if I want to watch No Country for Old Men, I’ll just watch No Country for Old Men and I realized that no western will ever come out that will be better than Unforgiven. Of course better movies might come out, but no other western will because Unforgiven is a brilliant commentary on the entire idea of the west and the western genre. That being said, True Grit isn’t No Country for Old Men and its not Unforgiven, its just True Grit and what True Grit was, was a masterpiece.

Grade: A+

Top 25 Movies

To a movie buff or someone who makes a site about movies, it’s essential to make Top Ten Lists. Some of my favorites to make were Top Ten Movie Directors and Top Ten Movie Villains. Top Ten lists are a very fun way to perfectly establish your opinion, but it is often a very difficult task. The most important and most difficult Top Ten List  to make is a list of your favorite films.

A Top Ten List of your favorite films has to be honest and completely encapsulate your take on films. I for one couldn’t do it. I do have a list of my top ten favorite films in this post, but I decided instead to post my Top 25 favorite movies of all time. Its a list that was practically impossible to make and will change as the years go on (I will edit the post if needed), but here we go. My Top 25 favorite films are…

25. To Kill A Mockingbird

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Gregory Peck is stunningly believable as Atticus Finch, one of the greatest fathers and heroes in cinema. To call To Kill A Mockingbird inspirational is an understatement. Like many great films, while inspiring, To Kill A Mockingbird is equally defeating. It’s a must-see film for every reason imaginable. The original novel is about the author’s actual childhood and the film doesn’t skimp on the thematic potential and tells the powerful tale through the eyes of the children.I have yet to have the pleasure of reading the original source material, but it sure made for one of the greatest films I’ll ever be blown away by.

24. Trainspotting

Trainspotting is a masterfully told film about herione-addicted misfits and friends in Scotland. Though disturbing and twisted throughout, Trainspotting still manages to stay unarguably beautiful, while entertaining from beginning to end. With Trainspotting, what you get is a pitch-perfect portrait of the very ideas of life in general, flawed and fun. Trainspotting is a true masterpiece of a film that makes you love, hate, laugh, cry and enjoy, among others.

23. Amarcord

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Federico Fellini beautifully portrays the memories of his youth and the town where he grew up. The movie is as poignant, colorful, hilarious and honest as life itself. To watch it is to be consumed by it. Fellini is one of if not arguably the greatest filmmaker to ever bless the silver screen with a work of true art and like a true artist, Fellini doesn’t just make pieces of art, with his movies what we are consumed by are pieces of himself.

22. The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is unquestionably one movie. The Lord of the Rings is an epic in every sense of the word. That’s truly the best way it can be described. The Lord of the Rings has in it just about everything you could ever want in a movie; love, drama, adventure, friendship, a huge cast of memorable characters, a beautiful beginning, a magnificent middle, an epic ending and much, much more. The Lord of Rings is that kind of movie that other movies should aspire to be. It’s a movie that makes you realize why we love movies in the first place. It’s a truly sprawling epic of an adventure and one that inspires and enthralls every time.

21. 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece is easily one of the most unforgettable and unbelievable experiences in cinema. Still visually striking to this day, but even more striking is Stanley Kubrick’s ambition. 2001: A Space Odyssey may very well be the most ambitious undertaking in cinema as Kubrick manages to tell the story of all of us and our very existence.

20. 12 Years A Slave

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With just three masterpieces under his belt, I can already say with confidence that Steve Mcqueen is one of my favorite filmmakers. He has somehow managed to one up himself with each movie he has made and it goes without saying that I can not wait to see what he has in store for us next time. Excuse me if I doubt he’ll be able to top his latest any time soon. 12 Years A Slave is the most raw, real and horrific excursion into the human tragedy that is slavery that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s also one of the most glorious articulations of love and hate ever crafted in the form of art.

19. Throne of Blood

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Never before has Akira Kurosawa captured atmosphere like he has in Throne of Blood. Like he does with all his masterworks, he poured his soul into this one and it shows in more ways than one, not the least in the portrayal of Washizu by his greatest collaborator, the awesome Toshiro Mifune. This may be his greatest performance as he plays the samurai version of Macbeth with unbelievable humanity. He manages to find a perfect balance between intimidating and completely fragile.

18. The Shining

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Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film is also the most beautiful, flawlessly crafted horror film I’ve ever seen. We walk through the doors of The Overlook Hotel and we witness evil. It’s an evil place and the tragedy that takes place there in is one I willingly experience over and over again. I’m drawn in and blown away by the mastery every single time. Stanley Kubrick was a man who was meant to make masterpieces, with The Shining you’ll find my favorite of those masterpieces.

17. Inside Llewyn Davis

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About Inside Llewyn Davis, The Coen Bros. were quoted as saying, “We wanted to make an odyssey where the hero doesn’t go anywhere”. Well in there search for nothing, the greatest duo in film have found everything you could ever want in an extraordinary piece of expression. The film is beautifully melancholy and resonates with its palpable reality and tone. The conclusion or lack there of is unmistakably profound and makes it one of the greatest films I’ll ever made. It surpasses almost every one of their remarkable masterpieces.

16. M

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It’s hard to swallow that M was made over 80 years ago. And yet it’s still as haunting as ever. Unlike many movies made before it and many movies made long after it, M is not a movie you would call dated. M is a seamlessly plotted psychological drama that will always be pondered over. There’s reason behind every choice Fritz Lang makes in the crafting of this timeless classic.

15. The Human Condition

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Whether he’s the protagonist or the antagonist, Tatsuya Nakadai always has a likability to him, which makes The Human Condition that much more painful as we witness what may be the most arduous journey ever depicted on film. With a title like “The Human Condition” you need a hero whose particularly human and that’s just what Kobayashi and Nakadai craft in the courageous, yet flawed Kaji. At over 9 and a half hours, The Human Condition makes for one of the most exhilarating and all-encompassing experiences in cinema.

14. Rashomon

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Akira Kurosawa creates pure cinematic poetry with Rashomon. Kurosawa may be the most influential director to ever make a film and in terms of craft, Rashomon is arguably one of, if not, the most influential of his films. Rashomon not only shows just how much can be done with the art of film, it also tells one of the most powerful stories ever told about stories, human nature and the enigma that lies there in. Rashomon can be viewed as Kurosawa’s entire life and his endless search for truth.

13. La Dolce Vita

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La Dolce Vita is a juggernaut of a film that is as bitter as it is oh so sweet. Federico Fellini captures stark black-and-white beauty in every frame as his first Marcello Mastroianni alter-ego searches hopelessly and shamelessly for “the sweet life”. The film is inspired by Fellini’s own past as a journalist and in a way challenges us to look into our own pasts as he has, learn and progress.

12. Ikiru

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Takashi Shimura breathes pure humanity into Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece of a man searching for meaning in his final days. It is without a doubt a must-see for anyone and not just movie buffs, for it may be the most universal of all of Kurosawa’s masterworks. Kurosawa evokes life in Ikiru, literally “To Live”, and perhaps even more notably, death in an unbelievably fitting structure. It may not sound like the most original story ever told on film, but it’s certainly unlike anything I’ve ever seen and easily one of the most touching.

11. Yojimbo/Sanjuro

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Yojimbo/Sanjuro doesn’t tell one fluid story and in fact you could watch either of the flawless masterpieces first and all would make sense, for you’d still be watching just one of two endlessly viewable portraits of the life and times of a masterless and wandering samurai. Toshiro Mifune’s nameless samurai is the heart and hero of Yojimbo/Sanjuro and he makes for one of if not the most badass character in film. Akira Kurosawa is a master of the craft and can accomplish realism with ease, but with Yojimbo/Sanjuro he presents one of the most fun and fantastically captivating adventures in film.

10. The Master

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In The Master there is not a single beautiful shot or brilliant line of dialogue out of place. Paul Thomas Anderson has a way of getting the best performance out of at least one of his actors and in this case Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of his career, which is saying a lot because Joaquin Phoenix is an incredible actor. Some could even make an argument for Philip Seymour Hoffman in this masterpiece. The film is a magnificent and dark enigma. Paul Thomas Anderson just knows how to make a movie and he proves that with his sixth film, The Master, a gorgeous film about choice, obedience, control and freedom.

9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is undoubtedly one of the greatest feats in Cinematic history. One Flew is a beautiful and enthralling tale of the life and times of Randall Patrick McMurphy in a mental hospital. Jack Nicholson gives the performance of his illustrious career. Through the friends he meets, the schemes he pulls and most of all the enemy he makes, we get a story filled with brilliant morals and themes. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredibly entertaining film, an inspirational masterpiece.

8. Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is Francis Ford Coppola’s flawless masterpiece. Coppola gets endless praise for his brilliant work, The Godfather, but its Apocalypse Now that he should be remembered for. Apocalypse Now is and forever will be a truly epic war film that brings you on an amazing journey deep into the heart of darkness. The film builds and builds almost to the point of promising you one of the greatest climaxes in film and gives you just that. Apocalypse Now is equal parts violent and philosophical, a truly indelible masterpiece.

7. There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood is tremendous in the way that it tells a story through through the eyes of a single man and examines not the dream, but the american nightmare. It’s one of the greatest character study ever made and without a perfect portrayal of this antihero it wouldn’t be the flawless film it is. Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen as Daniel Plainview, a depraved oil man whose mask slides off  revealing a complete lack of humanity. The drama and rivalry that ensues once Plainview begins drilling makes for one of the most monumental and gorgeous pieces of art I’ll ever bare witness to. There Will Be Blood is unique, real, but at the same time larger than life and monumentally powerful. There Will Be Blood is a beautifully-woven masterpiece in which we watch in horror as an ambitious oilman loses any remnants of a soul.

6. No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brother’s are, unquestionably,  two of the greatest filmmakers of all time and this is their greatest feat. No Country is a beautifully violent film filled with unstoppably moralistic power. It’s a blood-soaked tale told magnificently through subtleties, a film that is truly perfect in every way imaginable. No Country for Old Men tells, what seems to be on the surface, a simplistic tale of cat and mouse. A chess game, if you will, between an average joe who happens upon a suitcase full of drug money and a ruthlessly intelligent killer who has no empathy what so ever and will stop at nothing. The powerful tale that is realized with No Country for Old Men is one of violence, malevolence and art. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every single sense of the word.

5. Ran

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Ran is an epic tragedy of gargantuan proportions. At 75-years-old Akira Kurosawa still knew exactly how to make a film and not just any film, but a monumental achievement as only a truly magnificent artist could have envisioned and realized. From the first frame to the last I am swept away to this vast and evolving world. Ran is on a whole other level of filmmaking. It defies and tramples over any expectation you could have in a film by any director and this is the director. It astounds with every passing second. Discussing it here could never do it justice. Like all true masterpieces, Ran is a film one must experience for themselves.

4. Harakiri

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Anyone who enjoys the occasional movie owes it to themselves to bask in the glory and perfection that is Harakiri. It begins simply enough, a samurai walks into the house of the Iyi clan and asks to commit Harakiri (the ritual suicide of a samurai). Harakiri offers one of the most engrossing movie experiences ever and on top of that it’s one of the most important. Tatsuya Nakadai makes Hanshiro Tsugumo one of the most captivating characters in film as the one man willing to take a stand against the powers that be. Harakiri tells its compelling story that captivates from start to finish and long after once you begin pondering about all the film has to say, not exclusively bringing into question the meaning of honor. Harakiri tells an endlessly powerful story which by the end proves to be one of the greatest ever told.

3. The Dark Knight Legend

Batman Begins is nothing short of the perfect hero’s journey. We are brought on the wondrous, yet arduous journey of one man as he becomes the greatest hero of all time, Batman. It is a story that asks and answers the question, what makes a hero? And it does so flawlessly and without once being anything, but completely enjoyable. It is monumental, there is an eloquence to it, it is a masterpiece and it was only the beginning. The Dark Knight is unlike any other story or film ever created in the way that is a pure, spectacular and perfect examination of good and evil. The Dark Knight takes the symbol for good established in Batman Begins and brings him to the darkest corners of existence when he goes toe-to-toe with a symbol for evil and the greatest villain in history, The Joker. The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil, while Batman is good for the sake of being good. To see this poetically constant battle unfold between the two is to see nothing short of some of the greatest cinema of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises is a sweeping epic that defines the story that has been being told and offers the greatest end in the history of film. While Batman Begins was about Batman and The Dark Knight was about Batman and The Joker, The Dark Knight Rises is about the beating heart of Gotham and the people who are willing to fight to keep it beating. It can be viewed as Batman’s final trial into the status of a legend. It is an extraordinary masterpiece that brings the story to its inevitable conclusion. The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus through and through. I care about this story and these characters and the events that transpire. As if it were poetry or Shakespearean, this story actually has alot to say and it says alot to me personally. Whether it be The Joker, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Jim Gordon, Alfred, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, Scarecrow or any of the other magnificent characters in this story on the screen I am hooked. I’m involved and engrossed because I care about these characters and what they add to the majesty of it all.

2. 8 1/2

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I’m a bit lost for words when it comes to 8 1/2. And I mean how fitting that I find it hard to collect my thoughts and actually produce something when it comes to 8 1/2. I don’t know if there is a movie in existence other than 8 1/2 that calls to mind the phrase “speaks for itself”. Federico Fellini’s masterpiece is truly something you must experience to believe.

“I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I’m the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.” Federico speaks honestly through Guido and to us and from the beginning of 8 1/2 to end Fellini bares all that he has and is.

In personifying himself in 8 1/2, Federico Fellini has crafted a work of art for us and about us. In telling the story of a director finding his voice we realize the similar challenges we all face. He effortlessly uses Guido’s tale as an allegory depicting for all of us from a whimsical dream of a birth to the stage we leave behind. I defy anyone to witness 8 1/2 and not find a little piece of themselves as it is the most personal film I’ve ever seen, if not the most personal and progressive film ever made. It is not only one of the greatest films ever made, but one of the most glorious and beautiful pieces of art I will ever bask in.

1. Seven Samurai

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Akira Kurosawa is the greatest artist to ever craft a piece of art and Seven Samurai is his greatest and my favorite movie. No other film offers the reality, the escape, the journey, the camaraderie, the inspiration, the honesty, the heroism, the humanity, the growth, the truth and the beauty that Seven Samurai overflows with. It is the true masterwork of a man who consistently worked to better himself and his incomparable craft.

Not just the film as a whole, but every painstaking detail from character to camera movement to cut is a living, breathing thing with purpose and resonance. I am in awe by it and the master craftsman who made it all possible to say the least. This is a film as only Akira Kurosawa could make. Auteurs have their recognizable trends and styles, but Kurosawa’s trend is consistently progressing, starting from scratch and delving into an entirely new world and feeling. Seven Samurai is like no other film, not even an Akira Kurosawa film as no two Kurosawa films are even close to the same (other than of course the companion pieces Yojimbo and Sanjuro, but that’s neither here nor there).

Seven Samurai tells a seemingly simple story about a village, some bandits and seven samurai. Akira Kurosawa tells his tale and fills it to the brim with as much profound substance and beauty as a single film could have and then some. The film could not have been made any other way. No detail could have been changed. Every character and sequence amounts to the unbelievable epic at hand. I am wholly invested in every second of the film. It dramatically capitalizes on all the potent emotion you could ever ask for in a single film. It’s fun and funny, it’s sad, it’s overwhelming in its scope and it’s a visionary work of art and magic. Seven Samurai is my favorite film and the greatest piece of art ever crafted.

 

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Top Ten Coen Bros. Movies

The Coen Brohters are nothing short of the greatest filmmaker(s) of all time. Every single film they release is another brush stroke of originality that will, by the end, become the most memorable array of films that a filmmaker’s had to offer. I say filmmaker because whenever speaking of one, you always associate him with the other. That’s probably the reason they’re the best at what they do. They’ve got two brilliant minds working together.

Anyways, let’s get to this list. A list of Top Ten Coen Bros. Movies is one I’ve been working on for a while. The Coen Brothers are my favorite filmmaker(s) so this list had to be nothing short of perfect. I’ve put a lot of thought into it and here’s the result:

10. Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading is a story packed with black mail, murder, double crossings, back dealings, and above all else, stupidity. Burn After Reading is hilarious in the way that it throws a bunch of witless characters, none of which can be considered the main character, into a pointless story just to see what happens. Its an interesting concept and one that only the Coen Bros. could pull off.

9. Blood Simple

The Coen Brother’s first movie was made a little over 25 years ago and still leaves you speechless from beginning to end. It’s a simple tale of murder with real characters and an unforgettable mood of brutality and sleaze. Blood Simple is a fantastic movie that established exactly the kind of masterpieces that could be expected from these filmmakers in the future.

8. Miller’s Crossing

Miller’s Crossing is the Brother’s pitch-perfect take on the gangster genre. A prohibition era tale of a man who learns that empathy is a dangerous trait to have in a world run by sadism and crime. Miller’s Crossing is a poetic look at organized crime that few other filmmakers have been able to surpass. Miller’s Crossing should be held right up there with The Godfather and Goodfellas.

7. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the Brother’s take on pure adventure. Like “The Lord of the Rings”, “Kill Bill” and “Gladiator” we’re on a fantastic quest with our heroes who are after a simple task that lead them to many different experiences and meeting many different characters. In the Coen Brother’s case, this involves three escaped convicts after buried treasure and meeting a string of memorable characters, from “Baby Face” Nelson, a one-eyed bible salesmen, and even Robert Johnson. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is said to be a modernized version of Homer’s “Odyssey”. I haven’t read it, but based on this movie, I think I’d love it.

6. A Serious Man

The Coen Brother’s most recent film is a fantastic tale of the questions we all face in life and probably will never have answered. It’s a tale of a simple college professor who out of nowhere seems to be facing non-stop problems. First from a student attempting to bribe him for a better grade, then a wife who wants a divorce, a brother living on his couch, a daughter who steals from him to get a nose job, etc. He seeks the counsel of three different rabbi’s. What we see is hilarious and morally eye opening. This film, as all Coen Brother’s films do, but especially this film almost forces you to reflect on life’s big questions.

5. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is not just one of my favorite Coen Bros. films, it’s also by far the greatest comedy ever made. Most comedies, after a second viewing, you know what’s coming and you just don’t find it funny anymore. The Big Lebowski is almost magical in the way that it stays hilarious or is even funnier the more you watch it. I love every single moment we get to spend with, one of my favorite movie characters put on screen, The Dude and his hilarious friends and enemies. There are so many memorable lines and scenes that its making me sad that I’m not watching it right now.

4. True Grit

The Coen Brother’s have directed a versatile selection of films whether that be gangster films, mysteries, comedies or even tales of adventure. Their take on the western genre is a beautiful masterpiece on all accounts. True Grit unlike almost all westerns tells a story of the old west as realistically as possible. The direction and characters transcend into not only the western that feels the most real, but also a western that is one of the most resonant in the way that it truly brings you there and makes you feel for these characters. A truly brilliant film directed flawlessly by two brilliant minds.

3. Barton Fink

Barton Fink is nothing short of a masterpiece. An amazing film that is usually overlooked or misunderstood. I love every second of Barton Fink. The story seems simple early on, with a playwright moving to Hollywood, checks into the Hotel Earle, only to have writer’s block when asked to write a wrestling picture. What happens next is he meets his friendly neighbor Charlie, played by John Goodman in what is by far his greatest performance. I’ve already said too much though. I went in blind and what resulted was an fascinating movie experience. If you haven’t seen Barton Fink, I’d recommend doing the same. What makes Barton Fink stand out is the way that it is the kind of film you’ve never seen and will never see again. It’s utterly original and unquestionably brilliant.

2. Fargo

Fargo is nothing short of a perfect film. Fargo is the film where the Coen Brother’s really hit they’re full potential. They took every single thing that makes a Coen Bros. movie amazing and put it into this classic. Fargo takes that simple tale of murder, betrayal and realism they originated in Blood Simple and multiplied it by a billion.

Its hard to put into words what makes Fargo such a masterpiece, but for me I think it’s because how real Fargo seems. Its a story filled with real characters and real circumstances. It says in the beginning that the film is based on real events (any film buff knows that that’s actually not true) and that actually seems completely plausible because Fargo is directed to absolute perfection.

1. No Country for Old Men

When ever I think of No Country for Old Men, even before thinking about one of the greatest villains ever put on screen or the clever game of cat and mouse the film centers on or the resonant symbolism and morals that the makes the film spectacular. Before thinking of any of that, I first think of one word; Flawless. That’s what No Country for Old Men is; flawless, perfect, pure, and above all, a masterpiece.

No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s not my favorite, (although it is damn close) but I do consider it, by far, the greatest directed movie ever. The small details that few would notice, the lack of a score that adds to the realism, the shots and editing that forms tension one would never think possible with out music, are just a few of the artistic strokes the Coen’s make to form their greatest achievement in film.

No Country for Old Men centers on a game of cat and mouse between, an ordinary man named Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who happens upon a drug deal gone wrong and a suitcase full of 2 million dollars and an emotionless bounty hunter by the name of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) whose task is simple; get the money and kill anyone who gets in the way. The grisly tale is seen threw the eyes of a washed up Texas sheriff played by none other than Tommy Lee Jones. What is learned from this tale of blood and violence is honest, important, and makes for one of the greatest films ever made. Period.

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A Serious Man Review

A Serious Man is a modern masterpiece. I loved every moment of it. I would expect nothing less from the greatest directors working today, and in my opinion of all time. A Serious Man was so monumentally enthralling and thought-provoking, while at the same time being whole-heartedly entertaining and down right hilarious. It’s a must see really. The Coen Brothers mananged to capture the perfect amount of character and meaning into one hour and forty-five minute movie.

It tells the tale of a rough patch in the simple life of Larry Gopnik and his attempt to find clarity. That’s it. That’s really the best summary I could possibly give you. It’s simplicity is the most genius thing about it. A Serious Man tells a very simple tale and yet is still able to establish very meaningful undertones.

Every single actor and actor fell perfectly into place, as did every well-thought out detail of the movie. Everyone brought their A-game, but the best part of it is, there’s no big name actors. If your a real Coen fan, you’ll be able to spot a few regulars, but for the most part, we only know these people by the characters their portraying in this film. And to tell you the truth, they couldn’t be performing more perfectly.

The Coen Brothers are at the top of their game here and when aren’t they. Last year they threw out the fantastic film Burn After Reading, which was highly overlooked. I loved it, but it was nothing compared to this piece of art. There is not a single person who can tell a story as well as the Coen Brothers. Hands down, they are the greatest and if they keep dishing out movies this good I won’t ever have to debate that fact.

A Serious Man is a beautiful and poetic look at life and the difficulties it entails. A Serious Man wasn’t just a fantastic movie. It was also a reminder. There was another reminder that came out this year, it was a masterpiece entitled Inglourious Basterds. This is another reminder appropriately wrapped by the two greatest minds working today. A Serious Man is the Coen Brother’s way of reminding me why I love the art of cinema.

Grade: A+

Top Ten Movie Directors

I made this list a while back, but I was looking back over my site recently and I’m not ashamed to say this, but I did not spend nearly enough time on this list. So I’ve re-watched some movies, watched some new ones, re-evaluated my thoughts and I’ve decided to re write this list. This list consists of ten of the greatest minds and artists of our time. I’m proud to give them my money every time I hear their name attached to a movie and especially when their name is on the director’s chair.

Along with the name of the director I’ve also included a description of exactly why they’re on this list and also my three favorite movies in order by said director. It was one of the most difficult lists I’ve had to make, but one I believe all movie critics should divulge their time in creating.

Before I get into the actual list I’d like to give you a few honorable mentions in no particular order. These are all incredible artists who just barely missed the mark:

  • Oliver Stone
  • Guy Ritchie
  • Tim Burton
  • Ridley Scott
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Peter Jackson
  • Darren Aronofsky
  • Sergio Leone
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Milos Forman

Now here’s my top ten favorite cinematic directors of all time:

10. Clint Eastwood

Many people know and love Eastwood for his acting, which he does triumph in, but in my opinion his true genius lies behind the camera. He almost never disappoints and is my favorite director in the western genre. After making his masterpiece Unforgiven, he showed that he surpasses even his large influence Sergio Leone. He takes his craft seriously and he excels in it.

3. Gran Torino

2. Mystic River

1. Unforgiven

9. Francis Ford Coppola

It’s unbelievable that I’m forced to put a director as spectacular as Francis Ford Coppola in this slot. His films clearly speak for themselves. Coppola has a certain way about him that makes all of his films so utterly epic and breath-taking. The Godfather is considered to be, by many, one of the greatest films in movie history and even though I enjoy has Vietnam masterpiece more, it’s completely obvious why, it was directed by one of the greatest artists ever.

3. Tetro

2. The Godfather Part 1+2

1. Apocalypse Now

8. Danny Boyle

Like all truly great directors, Danny Boyle has managed to establish a clear and brilliant style, while telling different tales and expressing completely different ideas. Danny Boyle always manages to find his own way in telling a story and the stories he chooses to tell are always undeniably memorable. He puts so much unflinching feeling in every one of his films and as a result I find myself feeling for all of the characters he establishes. Danny Boyle is truly a man who knows his trade and performs expertly.

3. 28 Days Later

2. 127 Hours

1. Trainspotting

7. David Fincher

David Fincher has really become a powerhouse of  utter genius. There’s no arguing that he really is one of the greatest film directors not just working today, but of all time. He defined a generation with his masterpiece in 1999 and over ten years later he does the exact same thing for another generation.  He also never ceases to amaze with other films, whether its Zodiac or even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. David Fincher really is a true master of a gneration and of his craft and his expertise cannot be doubted.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2. The Social Network

1. Fight Club

6. Martin Scorsese

The hardest part in creating this list was attempting to order this top 6. Each in my opinion is worthy of the number one spot, but I had to figure out an order. It really saddens me that I had to put the incredible director Martin Scorsese this low on the list, but I can’t let everyone win. Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly a creator of modern masterpieces. No one makes films like him and very few make films as good as he does. Martin Scorsese didn’t invent the beautiful art of filmmaking, but being the genius he is, he sure perfected it.

3. Taxi Driver

2. Goodfellas

1. The Departed

5. Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick is all around one of the greatest directors of all time, mainly because he has more innovation and variety than any other filmmaker. He’s really done it all. He’s made horror movies, war movies, dramas, science-fiction, romance, heist movies, even comedies, and I could go on. Each one of his films are worth watching and making opinions on. You will find at least one that you will thoroughly enjoy. Or you might just be exactly like me and notice that every single movie the genius made was truly and relentlessly brilliant.

3. Full Metal Jacket

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

1. The Shining

4. Paul Thomas Anderson

There is something truly miraculous about Paul Thomas Anderson in the way he makes each of his films completely special and prominent, while sticking with his keen directorial style. Each of his movies are so big and not because most of them are longer than the average film, but because all of his films touch on so many themes and emotions while never ceasing to entertain. He’s only got five films under his belt and he can already be considered one of the greatest directors known to film. I just can’t wait to see what he does next.

3. Punch-Drunk Love

2. Boogie Nights

1. There Will Be Blood

3. Quentin Tarantino

Through the years Quentin Tarantino has always stuck out as one of the greatest directors of all time. He began his illustrious career with the fantastically unique heist flick Reservoir Dogs, then he showed us what he can really do by directing one of the greatest movies of all time, Pulp Fiction. Time passed and he directed the spectacles that were Jackie Brown, Kill Bill and Death Proof. Every single one is fantastic. He then showed me that he is one of the greatest artists not only working today, but of all time with the release of Inglourious Basterds.

Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest movies of all time and I didn’t think for a second that Tarantino would ever be able o top that. I was wrong. He did and he did it with flying colors and flare. I love all of Tarantino’s work and I don’t believe I will ever find myself being disappointed by a movie he directs. He has fun with every movie he makes. He loves what he does and as a result I love and have fun with every single masterpiece he comes up with.

3. Kill Bill

2. Pulp Fiction

1. Inglourious Basterds

2. The Coen Brothers

Their movies really speak for themselves, there’s not much I can really say. The industry wouldn’t be the same without them. They are a monumental force releasing masterpiece after masterpiece. Its really impossible to ever be disappointed with a Coen Brother movie. They make films exactly how they want to make films, they let nothing hold them back like money or popularity. They make art for the sake of making art.

They’ve made more masterpieces than one would think possible. They absolutely never let you down. They are the smartest people working in the industry by far.  I honestly want to shed a tear of joy with every ending of each of their movies because it seems almost impossible that the same two people can keep making masterpieces without fail for this long. The best part about it is also that The Coen Brothers still have a lot more masterpieces to go and that fact makes me happy to be alive.

3. True Romance

2. Barton Fink

1. No Country For Old Men

1. Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan isn’t in the movie business, he’s in the masterpiece business. He just oozes brilliance and all he has the ability to make is flawless films. No shot, performance, or second is lacking in perfection. He tells gargantuan stories that end up being nothing short of magnificent. Even my least favorite Nolan film, Insomnia, I find just incredible.

Don’t even me started on movies I couldn’t live without such as his dark tale of obsession and rivalry The Prestige, or the independent masterpiece that put him on the map Memento, or even the always enthralling and unbelievably extraordinary Inception. There’s something special, almost magical, that Nolan manages to instill in every single brush stroke in the beautiful art he creates.

One of the main reasons I consider Christopher Nolan one of my heroes and the greatest director/artist of all time is because he is the man responsible for my favorite story ever told. The Dark Knight Legend (or Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is and always will be nothing short of the greatest movie ever created. I love every character and event as they add to the perfection of it all. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but Christopher Nolan is the greatest director in all of film.

3. Memento

2. Inception

1. The Dark Knight Legend