CineFix’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Movies of All Time

CineFix’s debuted their Top 10 Most Beautiful Movies of all Time list today and it’s a good one. It’s really nice to see Hero, The Fall, Lawrence of Arabia and Samsara (Terrence Malick should be mandatory on this list, so well done on that, too) included on the list. If you don’t have time to watch the video, which you really should to see the stunning cinematography in these films, here is the full list and description of each film courtesy of CineFix.


Russian Ark (2002)
It’s a single, uncut steadicam shot going through the Russian Heritage museum. Sure, the concept is maybe a gimmick. But it’s amazing.

Manhattan (1979)
Woody Allen’s love letter to his favorite city in black and white ultra widescreen is every bit as impactful as Allen’s own memory of the city as a child.

Citizen Kane (1941)
There may be nothing more emblematic of how to make a beautiful movie that Citizen Kane.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
This entire film is a ballet of heavenly bodies, with carefully composed shots.

The Conformist (1970)
This is, in our opinion, the very best of Vittorio Storaro’s work. And that’s saying something.

The Fall (2006)
Tarsem Singh made a beautiful painting of a film; Colin Watkinson spend 4 years and thousands of miles bringing a child’s imagination to life on screen.

Hero (2002)
This film, which tells the same story from several different perspectives, (and color coded to match), takes a simple concept both in plot and style, and brings it to the next level.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
70mm film, and every frame of it a still image worthy of framing.

The Tree of Life (2011)
The most beautiful of Terrance Malick’s films, and there’s quite a bit of competition there.

Samsara (2011)
There’s no plot, or dialogue in this film, but it tells a story nonetheless – every image tells its own story, and it’s glorious.

July Movie Reviews


Ant-Men, double Jake Gyllenhaals, rabbit carrying treasure hunters and an under appreciated western round out my July movie reviews.

antman-poster-thor 2Ant-Man – 3 stars (out of 4 stars)
While it may not shock summer audiences quite like Guardians of the Guardians did last year, Ant-Man is a likable superhero flick that proves that good casting can go a long way toward making an almost unfilmable product worth watching. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas and Michael Pena are especially good in this, but heavy doses of wit and a rather uncomplicated plot (as far as Marvel movies go at least) really prevent this from being the train wreck that it could have been (there is something about the template of this movie that reminds me a bit of DC’s Green Lantern movie, except if it wasn’t terrible, so if you want to see the disaster version of Ant-Man, watch Green Lantern as a cautionary tale of what could have been). Unfortunately, Ant-Man still falls into Marvel’s recent trappings of having forgettable and shrug worthy villains (Tom Hiddleston being the exception of course) seen in Corey Stoll’s sneering Daren Cross, whose journey from 0 to 60 on the doing bad things to people who disagree with you at board meetings scale seems completely absurd, but I guess you can’t have everything in a second tier Marvel superhero movie. Ant-man won’t blow you away, but at the end of the movie I was completely on board with seeing more of these characters in the Marvel universe. I have a feeling that Edgar Wright could have taken this to some really interesting places if he had stayed on to direct. Also, consider seeing Ant-man in 3-D for the scale action sequences and staying for the two post credits sequences which actually warrant sitting through seven minutes of computer programmers and stuntmen being thanked.

Slow West 2Slow West – 3 stars
Slow West is an unsurprisingly slow western whose grim tone feels like an odd marriage between the Coen brothers and John Ford. Featuring some beautiful, stark imagery courtesy of New Zealand’s always scenic south island, a quality performance from Michael Fassbender and an undeniably tragic conclusion, this quirky western is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre. It may not wow you with its gunplay and shootouts, but the cinematography sure is a marvel to look at. If you find yourself fading while watching it, do yourself a favor and fast forward to the last twenty minutes. It’s brimming with some beautiful imagery. Also, if you liked Slow West, seek out Mads Mikkelsen in this year’s more visceral revenge tale, The Salvation. Fassbender and Mikkelsen were made for roles like these.

Inside OutInside Out – 3.5 stars
Inside Out continues Pixar’s track record of taking material that seems relatively limited in potential and producing very clever and thoughtful films based on those very simple ideas. I don’t think Inside Out cracked my Pixar top five like it has with many critics, but it is still way above and beyond the glut of family entertainment out this summer. And no, you need not worry. Inside Out has all the traditional Pixar staples; the heart warming/wrenching moments, the humor for both kids and adults, a character voiced by John Ratzenberger and a really morbid Chinatown reference (i guess the last one is new). However, the true accomplishment of this movie may be that it makes the audience misty eyed over a character named Bing Bong. Did not see that coming.

kumiko_the_treasure_hunter_ver2_xlgKumiko, The Treasure Hunter – 2.5 stars
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is a glacially paced film based on the semi-true story of an eccentric Japanese woman who traveled to America after acquiring what she believed to be the treasure map for the suitcase full of money buried in the movie Fargo (I know, it’s a little out there). Kumiko explores everything from mental illness to the subjugation of women in Japan on its strange 105 minute journey. It’s not a film for everyone, but it is shot beautifully and Rinko Kikuchi remains a strong screen presence as always.



me_and_earl_and_the_dying_girlMe & Earl And The Dying Girl – 3 stars
A mashup of Be Kind Rewind and The Fault in Our Stars with a sort of Wes Anderson for tweens vibe to it, Me & Earl And The Dying Girl won a slew of awards at Sundance this year before triggering a bidding war for the rights to its theatrical release. Earl is better than most of the high school movies released in the last fews years, but it’s also not without its problems. While I can’t fault a movie where the teen protagonist is obsessed with Werner Herzog, I do think there are about fifteen to twenty minutes where said character becomes insufferable and the movie suffers as a result. Is this insufferable behavior representative of actual teenage behavior? Probably, but it does prevent Me & Earl and The Dying Girl from taking that next step into becoming a classic coming of age story. It’s still a very solid movie though. RJ Cyler as Earl is a standout and the casting of Tammy Taylor and Ron Swanson as a parental power duo has to be commended.

Jurassic WorldJurassic World – 6 out of 10 raptors
Jurassic World is rated on an adjusted scale as it is not a very good movie, but it is an enjoyable movie, therefore warranting different consideration. It is a very sloppy product however, riddled with poor writing, flat characters and some pretty impressive displays of child neglect, but the last hour of dinosaur mayhem makes up for these flaws in my opinion. Again, this may not even be a particularly good movie, but it’s entertaining, and that’s essentially its function as a summer blockbuster, so at the very least it’s an effective movie in that sense. And I don’t care what people say, this is still a vast improvement on JP3 in my book.


enemy 2Enemy – 3 stars
With an ending shot that sent a lot of confused viewers scrambling for explanations on message boards, Enemy firmly cements itself as an art house film in the vein of Under the Skin and The Fountain (aka movies that require examination beyond their initial viewings). Because it was marketed as a bit of a straight thriller coming off Denis Villenue’s well liked straight thriller ‘Prisoners’, I feel many people were blindsided by this film and as a result it didn’t gain much notoriety. But if you’re looking for a creepy cerebral puzzle that requires some piecing together, this might be the movie for you. I’ve been a big fan of Denis Villeneuve since ‘Prisoners’ and really like the look of his forthcoming ‘Sicario.’ His catalogue is worth checking out if you want to see a director in the David Fincher school of filmmaking.

run_all_nightRun All Night – 2.5 stars
Run All Night is basically a knockoff of Paul Walker’s ‘Running Scared’ and every movie Liam Neeson has been in since Taken. There’s a lot of running and shooting and Ed Harris looking unhappy. I have no idea how at 63, Liam Neeson has become one of the most consistent action stars in Hollywood, but he continues to be awesome, so I don’t care that he’s entered some odd plagiarism loop where he will only play mild variations of his Taken character. Long live over protective dad Bryan Mills. Just try to date his daughter. I dare you.


IbFGs-mezsc.movieposterPirates – 2 stars
Korean blockbusters don’t quite rival the quality of their country’s more thought provoking dramas, but if we’re being fair that could probably be said of any country’s studio system, especially our own. Still, the quality of Korean blockbusters is drifting towards being more watchable, and even though Pirates is not the greatest thing ever committed to film, there are some comedic moments that land surprisingly well. There are still about forty movies I would recommend ahead of this one if it was your first foray into Korean cinema, but I suppose you could do worse for browsing Netflix on a Tuesday night (ie: see Anacondas 2: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. It may essentially have the same plot as Deep Blue Sea, but it’s certainly no Deep Blue Sea).

BIG-GAME-One-SheetBig Game – 2.5 stars
Goonies meets Die Hard in this Finnish blockbuster starring Samuel L. Jackson as the President who must be led out of the wilderness by a thirteen year old hunter after terrorists shoot down Air Force One with bazookas. You already know whether or not you’re going to see this movie based on that synopsis, so there’s not much more to be said. I enjoyed it. This is what Snakes on a Plane should have been.

My Favorite Movies of 2014


This is my Favorite Movies of 2014 list (along with a second opinion from Midwestern correspondent Eric Sweeney). What a great year it was for movies. Even as I assembled this list, I struggled to find a proper order for them as it was such a strong crop to pick from this year (admittedly this list could be reshuffled on any given day). There are still quite a few movies that I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet (I really want to see The Imitation Game and Nightcrawler, but haven’t had a chance) so no yelling about your favorite film being excluded if it appears on the haven’t seen yet list at the bottom*. If it didn’t make either of those lists, then have at it with the internet yelling.

My Favorite Movies of 2014

WHIPLASH+onesheet1. Whiplash – The last ten minutes of this movie were by far the most compelling and intense moments I witnessed on screen this year (the Raid 2’s kitchen fight might be equal, but it’s more impressive in the context of a relatively bloodless movie about jazz). Whiplash is fantastic and I hope J.K. Simmons wins an Oscar for his performance once award season rolls around. There are so many things in the last ten minutes that I’d love to rave about, even seemingly small decisions made by writer/director Damien Chazelle, but I don’t want to spoil too much. Go see it in theaters while you can. It is an outstanding film.

Watch This If You Like: Black Swan, J.K. Simmons yelling at people, Jazz music

guardians2. Guardians of the Galaxy – What was once projected to be Marvel’s first bomb at the box office turned out to be the year’s most pleasant surprise, succeeding both with critics and fans alike. Some questioned handing off such a large franchise to filmmaker James Gunn, whose credentials were more indy-oriented, but much like when the LOTR franchise was handed off to fellow morbid kindred spirit Peter Jackson, it worked out beautifully. Guardians is fun and entertaining and that’s about all you can ask for in a summer blockbuster. It’s not a high brow movie that will head many top 10 lists, but I don’t care. Hopefully Gunn’s success will ease the minds of nervous studio heads who have recently handed over large summer products to lesser known directors (Colin Trevorrow directing Jurassic World, Rian Johnson tapped to finish episode 8 and 9 of Star Wars and Josh Trank helming the Fantastic Four reboot along with a Star Wars spinoff of his own) and open up the door for other rising talents.

Watch This If You Like: Star Wars, Serenity, Avengers, Slither, 70s Rock

Interstellar 23. Interstellar – Interstellar easily wins the most devastating checking of an answer machine award (I honestly don’t know what sort of competition it has for that award though, Little Miss Sunshine?) and also deserves some consideration for the best space movie with semi-plausible/well researched science behind it award. I’m a sucker for space travel movies, so it’s not surprising that I thoroughly enjoyed this sc-fi opus. While Interstellar had some noticeable blemishes (there were more than a few head scratching moments), I’d say the good things far outweighed the bad; a killer score, great effects, a solid cast, surprise Matt Damon cameos (potentially gearing up for his role in the Martian later this year?) and walking Tetris blocks round out the good.

Watch This If You Like: Sunshine, Inception, Space, A sense of childlike wonderment that adulthood slowly shaves away

calvary4. Calvary – Calvary is choppy, disjointed and in giving with the McDonaugh brothers tendency to write witty scripts that read like plays, but I enjoy their style. It stands as a solemn film, anchored by a stellar performance from Brendan Gleeson who plays a priests that struggles to get his affairs in order after receiving a death threat. Set against the distinctly ominous landscape of Sligo, Ireland, Calvary is a bleak exploration of personal pain and the various ways we choose to hide it from others. Gleeson’s performance is a quiet and restrained one and will be overlooked come award season due to its relative lack of showy and fiery sermons, but I think it’s the best performance (Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons and Rosamund Pike are in the mix, too) that I saw on screen this year. Oh, but what a very sad and haunting ending this film has. Good lord.

Watch This If You Like: The Guard, In Bruges, Doubt, Irish landscapes

Snowpiercer5. Snowpiercer – As this was my most anticipated movie of 2014, I had already convinced myself that I loved it even before I saw a single frame, so it’s possible there might have been some bias in play. Snowpiercer was another film that could be considered a surprise hit (albeit on a smaller scale), garnering a lot of positive attention after Miramax essentially tried to bury it in limited release and VOD. In an earlier post I cataloged how much I liked this movie, so I won’t really get into it again, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that two of my favorite directors found their way into my top five this year. Joon-ho Bong and Christopher Nolan consistently put out movies that I find interesting and engaging on a number of levels. I know Snowpiercer wasn’t for everyone and seemed to produce some rather divisive opinions amongst viewers, which I understand, but I thought it was great. Tilda Swinton hamming it up as Minister Mason? Easily worth the price of admission.

Watch This If You LikeThe Host, Trains, Claustrophobic date movies, Movies that aren’t really date movies

raid_two_berandal_np6. The Raid 2 – The Raid 2 was definitely the best action movie of the year (with some serious consideration for best all-time, too), a blistering, violent gang epic from the mind of rising action director Gareth Evans and his talented cast of Indonesian martial arts stars. I was ridiculously excited going into the theater to see The Raid 2 and left with the same buzz I entered with, which is a rare feat these days. Admittedly, the movie is too ambitious for its own good at times and could stand to lose twenty five minutes from its run time (along with a subplot or two), but those minors qualms are erased by the insanity that is the last hour of this movie. If you don’t mind heaps of gratuitous violence and want to see what has to be one of the best fight scenes of all time, then the Raid 2 is for you.

Watch This If You Like: The Raid, Merantu, Ip Man, Cringing

birdman-click7. Birdman – Michael Keaton is excellent in this movie. Well, everyone who gets significant screen time in Birdman is excellent, but that’s besides the point. All signs point to director Alejandro González Iñárritu picking up some technical mastery from his good friend Alfonso Cuarón (along with borrowing his DP Emmanuel Lubezki), as the majority of the film is brilliantly constructed and edited together to appear as one long seamless tracking shot. Technical mastery aside, Keaton is the showpiece and he is the best he’s ever been as washed up star Riggan Thompson. What a great role and performance from him (especially considering the semi-autobiographical nature of the material). Hopefully we’ll see more of him on the big screen once again. He has been missed.

Watch This If You Like: Being John Malkovich, Black Swan, Great cinematography

boyhood-movie-poster8. Boyhood – Boyhood is unique. Other than the 7 Up documentary series, I can’t think of anything quite like it, and the result is mesmerizing. Linklater should be commended for such an ambitious and poignant project. It’s a fantastic film beyond the perceived gimmick and I’d be surprised if you didn’t find yourself still seated long after the credits have rolled, contemplating the many odd twists and turns of your own life.

Watch This If You Like: The 7 Up series, Before Sunset

lego_movie_ver9_xlg9. The Lego Movie – The Lego Movie is the best animated movie of the year and also one of the funniest. Everything from the animation to the jokes to the more heartfelt moments work well. It’s the epitome of clever and evokes some comparable moments to Toy Story without feeling too derivative. This could have been terrible, but isn’t. It’s wonderful.

Watch This If You Like: Toy Story, Legos, Heart warming product placement movies

Gone Girl10. Gone Girl – David Fincher’s near perfect adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best selling novel was a great showcase for Rosamund Pike, who was tasked with playing the role of the infamous ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne. Kudos to her and Fincher for pulling off what should have been very tough material to adapt and making it look easy. And even though it was a thankless role, credit to Ben Affleck, too. He nailed the feel of scummy old Nick Dunne. Also, as strange as it sounds, Tyler Perry was really good as Tanner Bolt. Seriously.

Watch This If You Like: Reconsidering dating anyone ever again, Living alone in the mountains, Dial M for Murder, A Perfect Murder, Strangers on a Train, Zodiac

edge-of-tomorrow-poster311. Edge of Tomorrow – This film is much better than it should have been, bolstered by the supremely wise decision to sprinkle the script with humor instead of rolling out the bleak Nolan-esque fare it was most likely destined for. It’s a shame it struggled at the box office, but hopefully it will get a second life on DVD (if they stop renaming it that is). If you want to check out a solid sci-fi movie, give it a shot.

Watch This If You Like: Source Code, Groundhog Day, Oblivion

Grand Budapest HOtel12. The Grand Budapest Hotel –  I think at this point people know whether or not they like Wes Anderson’s movies. I do, and thought this one was delightful.

Watch This If You Like: The Wes Anderson catalog, whimsy, lobby boys



rover_ver3_xlg13. The Rover – Guy Pearce stars in this semi-dystopian companion piece to The Proposition as a drifter who is dead set on getting his truck back after it’s stolen. I’m a big supporter of Guy Pearce and admired the scuzzy ego-free performance he turned in as the film’s drifter, a role that most actors wouldn’t have even entertained playing. The Rover is an undeniably bleak, dusty, dirty and depressing movie, so stay away from this one if you’re looking for feel good material. This is not it. And for all the hate Robert Pattinson gets, he was actually solid in this movie. It’s tough not to feel sympathy for his tragic dim-witted character of Rey.

Watch This If You Like: The Proposition, The Road, Animal Kingdom

hobbit14. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – This CG heavy conclusion to the Middle Earth story certainly seemed to be losing a bit of steam and direction as it came to a close, but there were still some things to like. Martin Freeman continued to be a reliable anchor for the series, the opening scene was thrilling and the battle scenes were executed on a grand scale, but it was tough not to feel the tapestry of Middle Earth starting to fray. I love this series and all its entries, but some of its troubling tendencies were becoming harder to ignore. A entirely CG dwarf character? Why? A guy that turns into a giant bear only getting seven seconds of screen time in an epic battle scene? Also why? Three movies for a skinny paperback? Explain?

Watch This If You Like: Movies with Hobbits in them

Honorable MentionLocke, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Life Itself, Blue Ruin, Under the Skin, How To Train Your Dragon 2The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1Godzilla, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 22 Jump Street, The Signal, Begin Again, X-Men: Days of Future Past, John Wick, The Fault In Our Stars, God Help The Girl, Wild, the synth soundtrack in The Guest

Had High Expectations For: The Drop. I really wanted to like it, but was ultimately a bit disappointed. Tom Hardy was great in it and so are the last fifteen minutes of the movie, but as a whole it seemed messy. I think I need to give it another shot though.

Worst Movie: I’m don’t want to linger too much on the negative, but what the hell happened with Transcendence? It was awful. And Pompei, too. You shouldn’t be allowed to plagiarize that much of Gladiator and not call your movie Gladiator 2: Jon Snow’s Revenge. Equally terrible.

*Still Haven’t Seen But Want To See: Nightcrawler, The Imitation GameThe Theory of Everything, Get on Up, Foxcatcher, Lucy, Inherent Vice, Only Lovers Left Alive, Comet, Fury, Manakamana, Jodoroski’s Dune, Force Majure, Coherence, Norte: The End of History, Unbroken, American Sniper, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Big Hero 6, Selma, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Citizenfour, Obvious Child, Cold in July, Frank, Dear White People, Ida, St. Vincent, The Book of Life, We Are The Best, Chef, A Hard Day, Starred Up, The Homesman, Enemy

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Best Movies of 2013

Untitled-2This is my Best Movies of 2013 list. There are still quite a few movies that I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, so no yelling about your favorite film being excluded if it appears on the haven’t seen yet list at the bottom*. If it didn’t make either of those lists, then have at it with the internet yelling.

Top Movies of 2013
Gravity1. Gravity – ‘Gravity’ was hands down the best movie I saw this year. It shattered all expectations I had for it and I was harboring rather lofty expectations as Alfonso Cuarón’s seven year hiatus successor to ‘Children of Men.’ I saw ‘Gravity’ opening night and went back the very next day, which I probably haven’t done since I was fourteen and ‘Independence Day’ was in theaters. Cuarón’s film is simply stunning. You know you’re doing something right when James Cameron goes out of his way to praise your movie, calling it, “the best space film ever done.”

Watch ‘Gravity’ If You Like: Children of Men, Sunshine, Apollo 13, Seeing Sandra Bullock in perilous situations

The worlds2. The World’s End – The final entry into the Cornetto trilogy was probably my least favorite of the three, but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t better than 98% of the movies released in theaters this year. Long time collaborators Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost assembled an interesting sci-fi foray into the nostalgic man-child who refuses to grow up catalog, sprinkling in some strangely poignant moments amongst the drunken debauchery. Although still being relegated to a bit of a supporting role, this is really Nick Frost’s movie to shine and shine he does. Occupying the straight/serious guy role this time out, by the latter half of the film Frost has transformed into a hilarious inebriated dynamo. Hats off to him. Also, as with all their movies, this script only seems to get better with every subsequent viewing.

Watch This If You Like: The Cornetto Trilogy, Doctor Who, British sci-fi

Hunger Games3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – A vast improvement on the first film in almost every regard – the departure of shaky cam, the arrival of better set pieces, added dramatic weight, Finnick, drunk Woody Harrelson, the tribute interviews, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, more creepy Donald Sutherland, etc. I was originally worried about Francis Lawrence taking over this franchise, but after this entry, I’m happy that he’s going to stay on to direct the last two parts (which really should just be one part) of the series. Here’s to hoping that they close it out with a bang and not a ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.’

Watch This If You Like: The Hunger GamesBattle Royale, Constantine, Killer monkeys

Fast Six4. Fast & Furious Six – Fast Six was a lot of fun. Sure, this movie and franchise are dumb as they come, but what it lacks in brains, logic and basic understanding of physics, it makes up for in sheer mindless spectacle and absurdly long runway finale sequences (tip of the hat for including Joe Taslim from ‘The Raid’ in the cast, too). Although, it is very eerie to go back now and watch the copious amounts of reckless driving after Paul Walker’s passing, the film is still a testament to how far he came as an actor, starting off as a by the books California-cool Johnny Lawrence knockoff and working until he became a linchpin of one of the most financially successful franchises of all time. And by all accounts, it sounds like he was a pretty good dude off camera, too. RIP, sir.

Watch ‘Fast Six’ If You Like: Fast 5, Running ScaredThe Italian Job, Tanks running over things

Prisoners5. Prisoners – It’s a shame that Hugh Jackman saved his most intense (and best) performance of the year for this movie and not for the second iteration of Wolverine, but all the same, Denis Villeneuve’s neo-noir kidnapping drama would not be anywhere near as effective if Jackman had phoned it in. Instead, he turned in something that approaches a Daniel Day Lewis is scaring the caterers type of performance, especially in a scene where Jackman uses a hammer as an interrogation tool in a dilapidated bathroom. Credit to Jake Gyllenhaal for mixing it up and giving a different performance than what we’re used to from him, too. His twitchy/sketchy detective was a nice change of pace for him. Overall, ‘Prisoners’ rounds out as a moody ‘Zodiac’ meets ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ meets ‘Mystic River’ type thriller that deserves to be seen.

Watch This If You Like: Zodiac, Memories of Murder, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mystic River, David Fincher movies not directed by David Fincher

Hobbit6. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Sure, it had its problems. It was forty five minutes too long, still was a little bit sloppy at the corners, had Kate from ‘Lost’ creating unnecessary love triangles and the narrative stitching continued to be more of a patchwork amalgamation of appendices, creative liberties and scattered source material, but I’m biased and there was a dragon in it. So, leave me alone. Positives? The barrels in the river sequence was worth the price of admission, Martin Freeman continued to be quietly underrated, Legolas was back, Lee Pace did more than glare creepily from majestic looking reindeer steeds and there was tons of Benedict Cumberbatch dragon voice. So, you know, it could be a lot worse.

Watch This If You Like: LOTR, Dragons, Dwarf meddling

590455-wolf_children_v_1a7. Wolf Children – I haven’t seen ‘Frozen’ or ‘Monsters University’, but I feel confident saying ‘Wolf Children’ is the best animated movie of the year. Having said that, I would warn that it is not a movie for everyone. It looks a bit weird at first glance and admittedly, it is a bit weird. There is some content early on that would probably turn people off and produce some eye rolling ‘Twilight’ comparisons, which is really a shame because if you can get past some of the allegorical oddities of the first twenty minutes, you’ll see something special. A poignant, quiet story essentially about parenting (albeit in hyperbolic circumstances) and the sacrifices and concessions parents have to make to raise their kids. Again, I’m not sure Americans would take to this film on a large scale (although with the exception of maybe one scene, there isn’t anything above or beyond what you would see in the annual stateside Studio Ghibli release, so who knows?) since there are some elements which probably resonate better with Japanese culture, but the messages are heartfelt and universal at the core. ‘Wolf Children’ sneaks up on you and is a sort of mini-masterpiece by the time the credits role.

Watch This If You Like: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle

Cutie and the boxer8. Cutie and the Boxer/Blackfish/56 Up/ – I always leave a slot open for documentaries, so why not throw these three in here together? The first is about the relationship of a husband/wife artist combo, the second profiles killer whales in confinement and the last is just a simple seven year checkup on a group of English men and women. ‘Cutie and the Boxer’ examines Ushio and Noriko, two relatively well-known Japanese-American artists. Ushio is the more well-known of the two and the story focuses on the mentor/protege relationship that has defined (and sometimes plagued) their marriage. Throughout their relationship Noriko has been relegated as more of an assistant to Ushio and relied upon to fulfill more domestic duties than artistic pursuits, despite the fact that she is very talented and capable of passing Ushio in notability. ‘Blackfish’ takes a look at killer whales in captivity and the consequences of their confinement, especially at Sea World locations. The documentary focuses on Tilikum, a male killer whale who has been responsible for the deaths of three people, including his trainer. Pretty depressing and eye opening stuff. ’56 UP’ is another entry into the always mesmerizing (even despite the rather bland, innocuous appearance of the subject matter) 7 UP documentary series, which has followed a group of children from England every seven years since they were seven years old. On their fifty sixth birthdays, the failures and successes of each participant are really magnified as they have seemingly breached the walls of “it’s not too late” territory.

Watch These If You Like: The 7 UP Series, Sharkwater, The Cove, Exit Through The Gift Shop

Pacific Rim9. Pacific Rim – Robots. Explosions. Ron Pearlman. Charlie Day. Idris Elba. Guillermo Del Toro. It has all the proper load-bearing elements of a good summer movie. Is it a perfect movie? No. But in all honesty, I have a soft spot for Guillermo Del Toro. I tend to like him as a person more than his movies and as a result want to like his movies more because of the person that he is. He is a cinema purist (in a good way) and his enthusiasm and breadth of cinematic knowledge seem to wear off on those he works with. I really like watching his featurettes and commentaries and even own the published copy of his diary that released this Christmas. But outside of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth‘ (which I think is a masterpiece) and probably ‘The Devil’s Backbone‘ (which is very solid from what I remember of it), I don’t know if I’ve ever liked his work as much as I wanted to. That being said, ‘Pacific Rim’ is fun if you can switch your brain off and ignore a myriad of problems that parade across the screen. Let’s be honest though, it still has smarter scientists than ‘Prometheus’ and Idris Elba cancelling the apocalypse will always be worth the price of admission in my book.

Watch This If You Like: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Kaiju, Mechs, Power Rangers

Iron Man 310. Iron Man 3 – A good portion of ‘Iron Man 3’ is just Robert Downey Jr. antagonizing a small child, but hey, that’s why we go to the movies, right? But that forty minute stretch of bad parenting is still funny and sweet in a weird irresponsible this would never work in real life way that Shane Black’s screenplays are known for. Black always seems to have a flippant element in his writing that almost borders on improvisational glee and I won’t ever criticize that type of enthusiasm in film. ‘Iron Man 3’ is occasionally rough around the edges, but still worth seeing. I mean, Guy Pearce breathes fire in this movie. Why would you not want to see that?

Watch This If You Like: Iron Man, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, The Avengers

Upstream Color11. Upstream Color – ‘Upstream Color’ will eventually creep up this list as I see it a few more times, but for now I’m still in the initial “too much to process having only seen it once” stage that also occurred with Shane Curruth’s previous effort, the cult favorite time travel yarn ‘Primer.’ Either way, Carruth’s abilities as a director have significantly improved since his last effort and so have the technical aspects of the film. As a result, he has crafted a really good looking bit of confusing, labyrinthine cinema. Certainly not for everyone, but if you liked ‘Primer’, I’d say give it a shot.

Watch This If You Like: Primer, Pi, To be confused

Snowpiercer12. Snowpiercer – All right, so I haven’t actually seen ‘Snowpiercer’, which, sure, tends to cut down on your ability to have an opinion on it, but I know that whenever the Weinsteins finally overcome the belief that Americans are incapable of processing movies without voiceover or subtlety and actually release this movie stateside, it will be worth the wait. Boasting one of the best directors in the world in Joon-ho Bong (who is making his English language debut with this film) and a cast featuring the indomitable Tilda Swinton, Captain America and the always reliable Song Kang-ho, there is a lot of promise here. This is a clear #1 on my Most Anticipated Movies of 2014 list.

Honorable Mention: The Grandmaster, The Conjuring, The Way Way Back, Drug War, Europa Report, Ender’s Game, The Hunt, Star Trek Into DarknessThis is the End, The Place Beyond The Pines, The Tower, Kon-Tiki, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mud, World War Z, Riddick, Captain Phillips, 42, The Wolverine.

*Haven’t Seen Yet But Will Eventually See And Consider: The Act of Killing, 12 Years A Slave, Leviathan, Rush, At Berkley, Fruitvale StationInside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, In A World…, The Wolf of Wall Street, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, All is Lost, Nebraska, A Touch of Sin, Blue is the Warmest Color, Flu, Filth, Short Term 12, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Room 237, Her, Before Midnight, Spring Breakers, The Spectacular NowOut of the Furnace, The Selfish Giant, Much Ado About Nothing, The Book Thief, Computer Chess, You’re Next.

Recognition Purely Based On Their Performance: Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt, Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, Nick Frost in The World’s End, Tony Leung in The Grandmaster, Mia Wasikowska in Stoker, Hugh Jackman in Prisoners, Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners, Sam Rockwell in The Way Way Back, Kyung-gu Sol in The Tower, Tye Sheridan in Mud, Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Idris Elba in Pacific Rim, Chadwick Boseman in 42, Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black (it’s TV, but we’ll make an exception), Harrison Ford yelling at children in Ender’s Game.

Just Terrible: (As I’ve said before, I’m not big on bashing things, but once a year, I can pick one out and swing for the fences) New Die Hard. You are the worst. Why do you exist? You have destroyed the legacy of John McClane, Hans Gruber and Nakatomi Plaza Christmas parties. You seem like a generic action movie that was written for Bruce Willis and then plugged around the Die Hard franchise at the last second when executives realized the movie was terrible. Also, unless I missed something in this movie (I zoned out quite frequently during the 98 minute runtime, so it’s possible), Bruce Willis is immune to radiation? Who wrote this screenplay?

Movies I’m Looking Forward To In 2014: Snowpiercer, Edge of Tomorrow, The Wind Rises, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Veronica Mars, Godzilla, Million Dollar Arm, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Giver, Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, 22 Jump Street, Transcendence, The Monuments Men, Jupiter Ascending, Dumb and Dumber ToSabotage (only because of Mireille Enos), Robocop (only because of Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman/Michael Keaton).

August Begins With A Pegg/Frost/Wright Hosted ‘Shaun Of The Dead’/’Hot Fuzz’ Double Feature

Hot Fuzz:Shaun Screening 5 August has been a solid month already, especially since it began with a double feature of Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz hosted by stars Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. I’ve been a huge fan of their Cornetto trilogy since I saw Shaun of the Dead way back when. I really hold those two movies along with their TV show Spaced, in very high regard. I’ve always admired their approach to comedy, which they describe as a valentine to the movies that they draw from and clearly admire. This is the reason that their films stand above the slew of parody films like the Scary Movies and stand more as loving homages to the genres they tackle.

So, needless to say, it was a blast to see them in person when they hosted the screening at the Music Box Theater here in Chicago to promote their new film The World’s End. They regaled us with some funny stories, including what they would do in a real zombie Apocalypse and why the extras on the set of Shaun of the Dead thought it was going straight to video.

Also, my week ended with signing with a literary agent (I am now repped by Kaylee Davis and very excited about that) and shaking James Cromwell‘s hand (he seems to be more Farmer Hoggett than American Horror Story in real life). So, yeah, August has been very cool so far. Let us see what the rest of the month holds.

RIP Roger Ebert

SISKEL  EBERTIt was really sad to hear that Roger Ebert passed away last week. I was always a big fan of his reviews and his thoughts on cinema as a whole. I especially loved his Great Movies books, which were thoroughly enjoyable essays on some of his favorite movies. Each entry was a portal into seeing just what Ebert loved about movies and why he did what he did for a living. I think some critics, curbed by their only cynicism, only exist to slam and negatively dissect material. But, Ebert, he truly knew how to celebrate movies he liked, whether it be in his Sun Times column or on some of the select DVD commentaries he did (Dark City was an especially good one). His presence will certainly be missed. RIP, Roger.


– Fans and Friends Gather At The Chicago Theater To Remember Roger Ebert (suntimes)

– Ebert on Death (salon)

– Ebert Reviews Your Favorite Movies (ign)

– What Did Roger Ebert Think of Your Favorite Movies? (ign)

– Ebert’s ‘Great Movies’ Review Archive (rogerebert)

– Movies That Roger Ebert Really Hated (canoe)

– Ebert Reviews Dark City (rogerebert)

My Top Movies of 2012


Here is my list for what I thought were the best movies of 2012. End of the year lists are about as subjective as things come, but to me, they’re always fun to do, because it gives people a broad spectrum on the year in case something worthwhile went under the radar. On the topic of subjectivity I should mention that I often like movies for very odd reasons and even a single great moment in a film can really endear it to me, even if that moment is buried within two hours of Nicholas Cage.

With that quick disclaimer out of the way, I will just issue one more small caveat for the legion of people who thought Django Unchained was Quentin Tarantino’s profane Christmas gift to the people. You don’t get to yell at me just quite yet. Django is just one of the many movies that I have not gotten around to seeing yet but eventually will, and more than likely when I do, it will warrant some consideration on this list along with: Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, The Master, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Flight, The Impossible, The Imposter, The Miserable French People (the loose translation of Les Miserables), End of Watch, The SessionsOslo August 31st, Bullhead and Jack Reacher.

Top Movies of 2012

1.The Dark Knight Rises – I know there were quite a few people who were lukewarm on this one and I wrote out a long winded defense for The Dark Knight Rises, but scrapped it in favor of something simpler. It comes down to this. Either you liked the Bane voice or you didn’t. I thought Bane voice was great. Perfectly unsettling.



2. Looper – I over analyzed the hell out of this movie in an earlier post, but will spare people the prolonged introspection this time around. Looper is a really cool film and a great example of well executed sci-fi. Not quite the mind melting time travel yarn I thought it would be, it nonetheless brings a sort of charismatic simplicity to a genre that is all too often convoluted, clunky and fairly esoteric. So, kudos to director Rian Johnson for that. And the last thirty minutes of the movie? Unexpected and tense. Very High Noon inspired.

3. The HobbitThe Phantom Menace? Really? Where did critics come up with that comparison? The Hobbit is far from being The Phantom Menace. Do those critics even remember how bad The Phantom Menace was? I don’t think they do. But let’s be honest here. I went into The Hobbit with a pretty biased mindset. As long as it wasn’t terrible, it was probably going to be one my favorite movies of the year. And I really liked The Hobbit, I did. When the novelty of “cool, we’re back in Middle Earth” wore off, I still enjoyed it. I don’t think it was ever going to trump LOTR. The expectations were too high, the story is stretched thin and the source material is much lighter (more of a kids book than LOTR). There’s also probably one too many dwarves to keep track of and one too many songs about doing the dishes, but when all was said and done I still found it to be a compelling setup for the trilogy. And how good were Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman in their limited time together onscreen? I’d go back to see it again just for the “Riddles In The Dark” scene.

4. DragonWu Xia aka Dragon was a nice breath of fresh air from the CG laden martial arts epics that Hong Kong has been pumping out in the last decade. Falling somewhere between a mishmash of Columbo, Ip Man and A History of Violence, this martial arts mini-classic features heavy hitters of Chinese cinema in Donnie Yen and Takeshiro Kaneshiro (kind of felt like Tony Leung Chiu Wai could have done this role in his sleep, but that’s okay). It still has a lot of over the top moments that modern martial arts movies are plagued with, but damned if it isn’t head and shoulders above the rest of them. Yes, even above the two hour music video seminar on how to break bones known as The Raid: Redemption. I wish more martial arts movies were like this. Great cinematography to be seen in this one.

film-poster5. Silver Linings PlaybookSilver Linings Playbook is an enjoyable and uplifting movie that strikes a common bond with Little Miss Sunshine, drawing comedy and drama from the plights of dysfunctional people trying to get their acts together. It also ends with a dance competition that has even more eery similarities to Little Miss Sunshine and its memorable closing number. But all credit to David O. Russell. If this movie had been marred by sloppier writing, directing or acting, it could have been cringe worthy material. It isn’t though and everyone on screen really knocks it out of the park, even in the film’s quieter performances like Animal Kingdom‘s Jacki Weaver as Pat’s mother. I know there has been some recent criticism fielded against this movie for its treatment of mental health issues. While I don’t feel qualified to comment or waltz anywhere near this emotionally charged subject, I can’t say as a casual observer that I found anything to be outlandishly irresponsible or trivializing to the struggles of those battling mental health problems. But again, nowhere approaching being an expert on such a subject. Definitely a film worth checking out if it’s still in theaters in your neck of the woods. Some nice feel good moments to be had here.

6. Jiro Dreams of Sushi* – A quiet, contemplative study of sushi, family and how the definition of success varies from generation to generation. Once again, I am especially impressed with this film because good documentaries like Jiro have the ability to take somewhat innocuous material and make it interesting. It sneaks up on you, but in a good way. All while making you hungry for quality sushi.


7. Indie Game: The Movie* – I helped crowdsource this documentary back when it was on kickstarter, so it was really satisfying to see the finished product and enjoy it quite a bit. Directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky managed to do a great job drawing compelling material out of the world of independent game making and presenting it as an accessible subject to those unfamiliar with video games. It transcends the gaming niche to give us a polished and well filmed doc, much in the same way The King of Kong did a few years back.

8. The Yellow Sea*/Headhunters* – I’m going to declare these two movies a tie for eighth and lump them together as a pair of successfully manic foreign thrillers. Even though they don’t come from the same continent, these two movies are essentially the same film. They both do a great job showing off just how devilishly fun this genre can be when its not shackled by Hollywood studios, cliches or expectations. Firstly, The Yellow Sea, a film from South Korea, was pure insanity. I was never fully sure what was going on in this movie, but I ended up watching a much maligned Fox Studios cut that supposedly was missing necessary exposition. This might explain why I was often confused, but regardless, it was still a pretty epic film. The protagonist and antagonist in this one were just unkillable beasts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people take such abuse and walk away from it time and time again. It was Schwarzeneggeresque, even though neither of these actors slightly resemble Schwarzenegger. But again, much like the director’s previous effort Chaser, the chase scenes in this movie are unforgettable. Think Bourne type madness fused with Oldboy. Then there was Headhunters, which was also pretty insane. Although I could follow the plot a little better in this one, it still had its confusing aspects. This Scandinavian thriller was born out of the rise of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo (the movie is based off Nesbo’s novel and people will be more familiar with his work on American shores when Scorsese adapts his book The Snowman later this year) thrillers, that delight in being very mature and slightly insane, but in a good way. To top it off, the villain is played oh so superbly by none other than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau aka Jaime Lannister, the Kingslayer himself. Headhunters might be one of those movies that collapses under its own weight if you look too closely at it, but if you can sit back and enjoy it, it’s actually pretty solid.

Avengers9. The AvengersThe Avengers was the epitome of a good popcorn movie. Non-stop action, witty dialogue and big budget special effects grouped together with some of Marvel’s best non-X-men characters equaled a massive box office haul and a start to what I hope will be an enjoyable franchise. Downey Jr. and Ruffalo did a solid job of holding together a large cast, steering this film away from Spiderman 3 territory. Oh, and long live Joss Whedon. That too.


10. Skyfall – Certainly one of the best looking Bond movies of all time, sporting a color palette and cinematography worthy of recognition, this entry doesn’t quite surpass Casino Royale in my opinion, but does have a lot going for it. These positives include Javier Bardem’s creepy turn as a blonde Bond baddie and a somewhat un-Bondlike ending I guess? Points for scaling back from the gadget happy Bonds of yesteryear to give us something more practical and old school. Judi Dench is always great as M and Ray Fiennes added to the franchise not as a bad guy? Sure, why not. Again, not quite as good as Casino Royale, but much better than that last Bond movie that no one can really remember (Bond slept with someone, there was a car chase and something about solar panels. That’s all I got).

11. Lockout*– I’m creating a special eleventh place on this list for Lockout, because it’s a bit of a hangnail of a movie and eleventh place is fitting for it. Lockout is a wholly ridiculous movie, the definition of a guilty pleasure with some of the worst special effects in a theater-bound movie I’ve seen in quite some time and as a friend recently pointed out to me, has a lead character who only speaks in one liners. Definitely bad to the point of being good, but I eat that kind of stuff up. Very little makes sense in the story, but the criminally underrated Guy Pearce elevates this from being forgettably bad. Just make sure to lower your expectations and turn your brain off if you’re watching this one.

*= Currently available for streaming on the Netflix Instant que.

Honorable Mention: Cloud Atlas, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within*, The Cabin In The Woods, Wreck-It Ralph, 21 Jump Street, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame*, Seven Psychopaths, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry*, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Moonrise Kingdom, Marley*, The Raid: Redemption and Goon*.

Recognition Based Purely on Their Performance: Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths, Judi Dench in Skyfall, Emily Blunt and the little kid from Looper, the little kid from Beasts of the Southern Wild, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis in The Hobbit, Hugo Weaving in Last Ride, Liam Neeson in The Grey, Everything Tom Hardy has done in the past two years, Jason Schwartzman in Moonrise Kingdom, Seann Williams Scott in Goon, Guy Pearce in Lockout and Michael Shannon in Take Shelter (technically late 2011, but whatever).

Movies I Will Probably Never Have A Fully Realized Opinion on: Prometheus (What.Are.You? And why don’t your scientists know how to run in diagonal lines? Is this really all about Space Jesus? These and more questions, never to be answered. Thanks again, Damon Lindelof)

Dishonorable Mention: Total Recall. I’m not much for compiling “worst of” lists or trashing things on this site, but I can’t get over how utterly forgettable the Total Recall remake was. Sure, it looked kind of slick and had Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy in it, but it also was a giant pile of garbage. This movie was basically a really expensive looking landfill. They didn’t even have the awesome no oxygen head exploding part from the original. It was just unnecessary, uninspired and easily forgotten. This movie’s budget was supposedly $125 million. Why not cut that into fifths and give five up and coming directors $25 million to make something original? Or donate the money to time travel research so we can go back in time and prevent this movie from ever being remade? Because honestly, this movie will be forgotten in six months and people will default back to remembering Arnold’s 1990 version as the only version. I suspect Len Wiseman may be taking a page from Paul W.S. Anderson‘s book and just phoning in a series of sterile movies starring his attractive wife while they both collect paychecks and sip wine on their yacht. Can’t really blame them, but maybe just stay away from the classics in the future?

So, what about you? What did everyone else like from 2012’s crop of movies?

Best Halloween Movies On Netflix, Hulu And Amazon Streaming

This is kind of a tangential post for the site, but there’s only a week left until Halloween and I thought it’d be nice to compile some of the Halloween movies available on the streaming services you may already subscribe to. The convenience of these services are great, but sometimes the organization and navigation through their vast archives can be a bit of a nightmare. So, here is a list (with direct links included) of some of the Halloween flicks that Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime have to offer in Fall 2012.


Let The Right One In (2008) – This is one of the few vampire films of the recent decade that actually warrants being watched and rewatched. This superlative Norwegian feature spawned an American remake only two years after it was released. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is. Either way, be sure to check out the story of Oscar, a bullied boy, who finds friendship with his next door neighbor, Eli, an ageless vampire.

The Thing (1982) – John Carpenter’s classic monster movie is available on the Netflix que, ready to remove the stale aftertaste of the ho-hum remake/prequel of yesteryear. I still hold this film in high regard as one of the best horror movies of all time, even with its practical special effects and 80s haircuts.


The Walking Dead (2010) – Not a movie, but if you really want to put yourself through the wringer of a Halloween marathon, look no further than AMC’s popular zombie series. While this show certainly has its peaks and valleys, it still has a solid foundation and employs some interesting ideas in a genre that is generally saturated with cliche and derivative form.

Insidious (2010) – Sure, the last half of this movie kind of tails off from the more superior first hour, but if you’re looking for a ghost movie with some legitimate scares, look no further than original Saw helmer James Wan’s ghost story. The film follows a family who is trying to prevent an evil spirit from possessing their son after he falls into a comatose state.


Honorable Mentions on the Netflix Que: Dead Snow, Bubba Ho-Tep, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Candyman, GhostThe Host, Paranormal Activity 2, The Relic, The Langoliers, The Reef, Monkey Shines, The Signal, Little Monsters.

Amazon Prime

Triangle (2009) – A criminally overlooked horror movie and probably the best of the ‘ghost ship’ movies, Triangle combines elements of ghost movies, slasher fare and time travel to produce a rather intriguing tale about a group of passengers who become trapped on a haunted cruise ship. I don’t know if this description does it justice, but I found it to be one of the more worthy recent efforts from the horror genre, falling somewhere between a meld of Ghost Ship and Timecrimes. So, if you want to try something a little different this Halloween, definitely check this one out.

The Addams Family (1991) – For some family fare, why not revisit the Adams Family movie? Truthfully, I don’t remember the last time I saw this film, but with a cast that boasts Raul Julia, Christoper Lloyd, Christina Ricci and Anjelica Huston, it’s probably worth revisting, if not just for nostalgia’s sake. While still brandishing a pg-13 rating, it still should be able to be shown to most middle aged kids if you are looking for an alternative to the standard adult oriented Halloween films.

The Descent (2005) – Cave creatures! One of the more respected entries in the creature genre over the last decade, The Descent spawned a sequel and at least a dozen knockoffs, creating a subgenre that might as well be labeled ‘spelunking horror.’ Your enjoyment of this film probably hinges on your level of claustrophobia, the crowd you watch it with and the number of times you are comfortable screaming “Cave creatures!” at the screen. Be warned. This one is not for people who are afraid of small spaces.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The Blair Witch Project may be a polarizing piece of cinema, but it really deserves credit for giving birth to the ‘found footage’ genre, especially within horror films. Say what you will about the movie and its controversial ending, but as Paranormal Activity 4 proved to be king of the Halloween box office this year, TBWP’s lasting influence cannot be denied.


Honorable Mention:  Jeepers CreepersPoltergeist, Killer Klowns From Outer SpaceNear Dark, Hellraiser, The Wicker Man (1973), Evil Dead 2, Hostel.


Halloween (1978) – While this series may have way too many entries and remakes to its name and seems to follow a cycle of frustrating repetition (Dear God, why didn’t you just jettison Michael Myers into space after the third movie instead of continually putting him in some easily escapable mental institution, guarded only by a single elderly janitor?), the original Halloween can’t be denied as a horror classic. John Carpenter once again proves his talent by melding the slasher genre into what it still remains to this day. This also contains the best horror movie score of all the slasher movies. So, points for that.

Below (2002) – I can’t say it has much competition, but this has to be the best submarine ghost movie of all time. Although, like I said, I can’t think of any other submarine ghost movies. There are quite a few ghost ship movies, but not ghost submarine movies. Either way, this movie, much like Triangle, is relatively unknown, but worthy of a larger audience. It has some quality scares, a decent cast and an intriguing plot about again, a haunted submarine.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Certainly one of the oldest movies on the list, George Romero’s classic zombie flick deserves to be on this list because half this list wouldn’t exist without his cinematic contributions, especially Night of the Living Dead. There would be no Walking Dead, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, etc if it wasn’t for this man and his early entries into horror cinema. If you’re one of those people who really can’t sit down and tolerate watching anything made before 1980, why not show it some love and at least stream it in the background during your Halloween party this year. I’m sure that would make George Romero a happy man.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Robert Rodriguez’s infamous vampire flick has one of the strangest casts of all time, featuring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Martin, Harvey Keitel and Salma Hayek. One thing that I really appreciate about this movie is that it plays against type with a lot of its casting choices. So, kudos for flip flopping Keitel and Clooney’s roles to have Clooney as the bad guy/anti-hero and Keitel as the good guy/caring father.


Really Netflix, Hulu, Amazon? What’s The Deal Not Having? (aka egregious omissions from their Halloween streaming lineups): The Lost Boys, The Shining, Fright Night (1985), The Frighteners, Shaun of the Dead, Scream, Monster Squad, Nightmare Before Christmas, Gremlins, 28 Days Later, Dead Alive, Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, The Orphanage, The Witches and Sleepy Hollow.


Not seeing the movie you were looking for on any of these services that you might already pay for? Well, do not despair. You can rent most other Halloween movies from some of the video on demand services and if you have cable, AMC and a few other networks will be looping most of the Halloweens, Friday the 13ths, Child’s Plays and Nightmare on Elm Streets for the entire week.