Top 15 Best Movies of 2016

With a handful of bad movies 2016 had to offer, this year had some of the best movies I’ve seen in recent memory. From the bizarre to the unique to the poignant to the surprising to the most fun I’ve had in the movie theater, those are the terms that define 2016 when it comes to film. Without wasting any time, let’s get started with my top fifteen movies of 2016. There were so many phenomenal films.

Honorable Mentions: The BFG, The Conjuring 2, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Everybody Wants Some!!, Finding Dory, Florence Foster Jenkins, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Jungle Book, The Lobster, Midnight Special, Remember, Sully, The Witch

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(Source: IndieWire)

15. The Nice Guys – Shane Black goes back into his roots of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Lethal Weapon to write and direct a buddy-comedy that taking place in the 1970s with ‘80s-style action and irony. I cannot picture a better dynamic duo than Jackson Healy and Holland March, played to perfection by Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. They work off each other so brilliantly as two detectives investigating the murder of a famous porn star. Who needs toilet humor when you got references to The Waltons or having Gosling do a famous Abbott-and-Costello-esque silent scream when he discovers a dead body? With a good mystery, thrilling action set pieces, a witty script, and a gifted cast, it’s a shame The Nice Guys didn’t earn the money it deserved. I would love to see a sequel featuring these two detectives.

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(Source: American Society of Cinematographers)

14. Swiss Army Man – When it premiered at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival, a lot of people walked out within the first ten minutes. One of the biggest challenges while seeing Swiss Army Man is get used to the toilet humor. Because there is a whole lot of it! Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheibert – otherwise known as The Daniels – go into a deeper territory with the toilet humor. The corpse’s farts are symbolic for having a connection with one another. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe star as the oddest pair of characters in years. Not only that, their performances are some of the most ambitious in recent memory. Thanks to its refreshing use of practical effects, the stunts resemble those of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. The chemistry is one of the reasons why the movie works. It’s funny. It’s heartfelt. It’s an original piece of work! I have been waiting to a movie like Swiss Army Man for years!

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(Source: The Verge)

13. Don’t Breathe – Whether you call it a horror film or a straight-up thriller, you cannot lie that Don’t Breathe is a genuinely chilling piece of entertainment. Fresh from directing the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, Fede Alvarez uses a variety of film techniques to build up tension. From the long, quiet tracking shots to perhaps the best example of night-vision filmmaking, this movie pins you to your seat. Jane Levy is a revelation as one of the three protagonists who breaks into people’s house around Detroit to earn enough money for California. Known for starring in Avatar, it’s refreshing to see Stephen Lang to play a horror movie villain. His Blind Man may not see anything, but can hear that something is up to no good. The city of Detroit also serves as an important role not only in this film, but the horror genre in general. It Follows serves as another great example. Don’t Breathe is nothing compared to your typical home-invasion flick.

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(Source: IndieWire)

12. Captain America: Civil War – It’s official! The Marvel Cinematic Universe has finished one of the best trilogies in history! Spider-Man might have been brought in at the last minute, but he deserved to be in this movie! With Winter Soldier, Anthony and Joe Russo bring politics into the MCU. The titular “Civil War” showcases what is funny and thrilling. Funny, exciting, and just as devastating as The Winter Soldier, I had a blast with Captain America: Civil War. Seeing characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther makes me look forward to their solo films.

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(Source: IMDb)

11. Zootopia – This movie surprised the hell out of me! With a concept that might sound like your average animated film from Disney, it actually has a great message for kids and adults alike about prejudice. While they are different, Nick the Fox (Jason Bateman) and Judy the Rabbit (Ginnifer Goodwin) begin to overcome their negative feelings toward one another and work together as a team. While poking fun at pop culture, Zootopia is the entire package: funny, thoughtful, suspenseful, gorgeously-animated, and rife with emotion. Thumbs up for this movie referencing The Godfather.

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(Source: NPR)

10. Loving – After directing the overlooked sci-fi gem Midnight Special, Jeff Nichols goes back to an important time in history. A movie following the 1967 court ruling of Loving v. Virginia would have ended up being your typical sap-fest. What Nichols brings to the table, however, is a subtle and heartwarming tale of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, fighting for their lives in a rough time in history. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga have tender chemistry while keeping their dialogue short and sweet. The scene where a photographer for LIFE magazine (Michael Shannon, in his fifth film with Jeff Nichols) is hired to capture the life of the married couple is one of the best movie moments of the year.

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(Source: IMDb)

9. Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair after Apocalypto to create a graphic but courageous portrayal of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, in the performance of his career), who never picked up a gun in his life but nevertheless served in the Battle of Okinawa to save 75 people. It features the horrors of war with the old-fashioned drama featuring beautiful 1940s sets and a sweet love story between Doss and his sweetheart Dorothy (Teresa Palmer, in the performance of her career). Once Doss talks about his religion, we immediately know why he never picked up a gun. Featuring a great cast (Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington) and the most realistic war scenes since Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge is a marvelous World War II-epic.

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(Source: The New York Daily News)

8. Eye in the Sky – Wow! Talk about being pinned to your seat from the get-go! Eye in the Sky is one of those movies that went under everybody’s radar. It brings the morality into the subject of modern warfare. Through Gavin Hood’s sharp direction and Guy Hibbert’s miraculous screenplay, what makes this movie all the more suspenseful is it primarily takes place in a surveillance room in London or Las Vegas, or in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Originally written as a male character, Dame Helen Mirren brings enough sheer confidence and energy into her role of Col. Katherine Powell. With a gifted cast including Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), this movie is also worth seeing for Alan Rickman’s final performance as Frank Benson, who has been contributed in the war for a number of years. The final moments of the movie showcase how the brilliance of one of the best actors who ever lived. Rest in peace, Alan Rickman. You will be missed.

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(Source: Flickering Myth)

7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople – This quirky comedy from New Zealand is one of the funniest films of the year. Julian Dennison and Sam Neill make an odd dynamic duo as they run off together into the “bush” learning how to survive as well as encountering a wild boar or two (which makes for one of the best running gags of the year). Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok; writer of Moana) creates an offbeat comedy about caring for those around you. Juxtaposing the humor with New Zealand’s beauty, I have never laughed so hard yet felt moved by a movie such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It features the best Lord of the Rings reference since The Martian.

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(Source: The Irish Times)

6. Sing Street – 2016 had a lot of fantastic movies about chasing your dreams. Sing Street is another movie showcasing the talents of director John Carney. His 2007 feat Once is a masterpiece that defies the traditional musical genre. It follows a pair of musicians in Ireland who form a friendship through their passion of music. He goes across the Atlantic Ocean to film Begin Again, following the same structure of Once, but in New York City. While it was great, it doesn’t quite hold up its beauty as Carney’s predecessor.

Carney goes back to his native Ireland to create Sing Street. This movie, which takes place in 1985, following a boy’s dream of making a band to impress a girl, is guaranteed to put a smile across anyone’s face. Featuring wonderful characters you wished you hung around with every day, gorgeous cinematography, and toe-tapping music numbers, it throws every mainstream musical out of the water. I bought the soundtrack after seeing Sing Street in theaters. And it kicks ass!

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(Source: The Atlantic)

5. Hell or High Water – Another movie where morality comes into play quite brilliantly. Ben Foster and Chris Pine have never been better playing two criminals who come off more as the heroes of the story rather than the villains. They plan a series of bank heists to save their family ranch in Texas. Jeff Bridges plays the Texas Ranger on the verge of retirement whose last assignment to go out after them. You can really feel the Texas heat, kudos to David Mackenzie’s direction and Giles Nuttgens’ cinematography. The tension of the bank robberies pins you to your seat. Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay is perhaps the best of the year, featuring a lot of razor-sharp wit, especially when Bridges’ Marcus pokes fun of his deputy’s Indian heritage. If you have to pause Hell or High Water at any time during its 102-minute running time (on the DVD/Blu-Ray, the running time says it’s 122 minutes long, which is entirely false), you are looking at a work of art.

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(Source: Film Dispenser)

4. Arrival – Denis Villeneuve strikes back to bring back the lost art of science-fiction. A form where it makes you think and wanting to see it again and again. While Arrival can be compared to Closer Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs, this movie is more than just your typical alien-invasion flick. It asks questions such as: Who and what are these beings? Why are they here? Do they pose as a threat to humanity or not? That’s the part of this film’s brilliance; is that it transports the audience into a world of mystery and the need to communicate. I hope Amy Adams earns an Oscar nomination for her performance as Louise, a linguistics professor who won’t stop at anything to find answers from these beings. Arrival is what Interstellar should have been.

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(Source: The Verge)

3. Moonlight – I have never seen anything so devastatingly powerful all year. Moonlight is writer/director Barry Jenkins’ second film which talks about neglect and self-discovery. Separated into three acts, we follow Chiron as a kid, as a teenager, and as an adult trying to find his purpose in life in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era. Every character is portrayed naturally to the point where the audience connects with them. Seeing this movie twice, the rough portrayal of Miami moved me to tears more on the second viewing. I cannot think of a better ending than in Moonlight.

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(Source: IndieWire)

2. Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan has created an affectionate, raw, and funny film centering on one man’s grief. Premiering at countless film festivals, Manchester by the Sea earned unanimous praise. Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler is a stubborn and selfish person who goes through a lot after the death of his brother (Kyle Chandler, in flashbacks) and tries to make it up for it by connecting with his nephew like he did years ago. While it is a depressing film, it also has a deadpan sense of humor. I’ve seen it twice in theaters, and I loved it more the second time. Manchester by the Sea feels as authentic as the culture. It makes me so proud to be from a part of New England.

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(Source: The Playlist)

1. La La Land This was extremely difficult for me to determine which film as the best of 2016. Both this film and Manchester by the Sea are fantastic on their own right, but La La Land reminds us why movies like this don’t exist anymore. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, writer of 10 Cloverfield Lane) has created another masterpiece! Seeing this film yesterday at a packed movie theater is the best cinematic experience of my entire life.

From the opening musical number taken place during a traffic jam in Los Angeles, I was immediately hooked. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are electrifying as the star-crossed lovers who are trying to make ends meet by achieving something really special. They provide enough wit, charisma, and rhythm in this miraculous world of vibrancy, expectations, love, and disappointment. Every single shot is truly a work of art, especially the spectacular dancing sequence at the Griffith Observatory makes you feel like you are watching a dream coming to life. From the originality, its toe-tapping, beautifully-choreographed music numbers, and use of tracking shots, La La Land pays tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood and features the best portrayal of Los Angeles I’ve ever seen. I absolutely loved it!

I hope you enjoyed my picks for the best films of 2016. I’m beyond curious to see what your favorite films of the year are. Here’s to a good 2017!

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Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016

Another year is almost upon us. It’s time to look back on the good and the bad.

2016 has been one crazy year. We missed a lot of people including David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Prince, George Michael, and so on. They are leaving a hell of a legacy behind them. On the other hand, 2016 has been another wonderful year for film. Plenty of movies that surprised me and exceeded my expectations. However, I cannot remember the last time so many movies flopped—both critically and financially. It’s disappointing to see good movies such as The BFG and Kubo and the Two Strings not earning the money it deserved. I’m actually glad some movies I missed out on flopped.

Like I usually do, let’s start off with the worst movies of the year. There were plenty of films I’ve seen in 2016 I would definitely like to forget. This year has seen some great actors wasting their talents, more rip-offs to better young-adult adaptations, some of the worst comedies imaginable, and a CGI-fueled clash between two of the greatest superheroes. Without further ado, here’s my list of the top ten worst movies of 2016.

Dishonorable Mentions: Free State of Jones, Hardcore Henry, A Hologram for the King, I Saw the Light, Independence Day: Resurgence, Regression, Sausage Party, Suicide Squad

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(Source: The Verge)

10. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I knew this film was not going to be any good after Ben Affleck was announced to play Batman. That was three years ago after the release of Man of Steel (which I mildly enjoyed)! Finally seeing it in theaters, Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot are the only decent things about this cluttered, derivative mess. Zack Snyder cannot even direct a compelling narrative that had a lot of potential for making up the problems Man of Steel had. If the best part in the movie is the opening, that’s not a good sign. The tone is so dead serious that it almost bored me to tears. Not to mention the climactic fight between these two superheroes being overhyped—it’s just them crashing into walls. Batman vs. Superman is a disgrace to two of the best superheroes of all-time. How can they ruin such a great supervillain like Lex Luthor? Jesse Eisenberg is impossible to take seriously.

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(Source: The Los Angeles Times)

9. Warcraft – For someone who has never played any of the World of Warcraft video games, I had a feeling this might be a new fantasy classic and would end the streak of bad video game adaptations. Duncan Jones, who directed Source Code, one of the greatest science-fiction films in recent memory, showed some footage to his father David Bowie before his death in January. It is, without a doubt, a nice thing to do; being curious on what someone’s son has been working on. From seeing the final product, all I could say is this: What the hell happened?

This fantasy epic—more like, an epic failure—has visuals that look pretty cool (I mean, look at the Orcs) but the green screen effects are atrociously obvious. I wish the mythology would have been explored more. Some of the humor is forced, the battles are a bore, and features a huge waste of talent from such a solid cast. I’m glad Ben Foster went somewhere after this dud. Warcraft is a movie for gamers, by gamers.

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(Source: IndieWire)

8. Jane Got a Gun – The popularity of the Western genre has decreased since Clint Eastwood’s Award-winning film Unforgiven. There are plenty of Westerns that came out after 2000 that were actually great; 3:10 to Yuma and the 2010 remake of True Grit are some examples. Of course, there were plenty of misfires over the years. Jane Got a Gun is no exception. Being in production for many years, the movie ended up being released in 1,200 theaters nationwide. Resulting in becoming one of the biggest box-office bombs of the year. Director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, The Accountant) and three writers including star Joel Edgerton had created a character study and revenge tale that is neither interesting nor exciting. Natalie Portman plays Jane Hammond, a frontierswoman, who seeks revenge on a gang, led by Ewan McGregor’s John Bishop, after attacking her husband—sound familiar? The overuse of flashbacks doesn’t make up to really sympathize with any of the characters. Portman, Edgerton and McGregor seem lost here. The final showdown is a bit of an anticlimax. By the end, Jane Got a Gun proves where the Western genre is going.

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(Source: IMDb)

7. The Huntsman: Winter’s War – I was excited to see this when I heard Frank Darabont was going to direct the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. He directed two of the best Stephen King adaptations of all-time—The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Not to mention the bland Kristen Stewart not returning to reprise her role as Snow White. Even though I found its predecessor to be average, The Huntsman: Winter’s War disappointed me on a gargantuan level.

This movie has no idea what it wants to be. A prequel? A sequel? Or a Frozen rip-off? The cast is trying really hard here; Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain are two of the most charming actors working today. But, they have no chemistry whatsoever, and their Scottish accents are horrible. Charlize Theron had little to nothing to do here as the Queen Ravenna. And Emily Blunt is at her absolute worse as Freya the Snow Queen. Her mumbling and sudden outbursts reminded me so much of Eddie Redmayne’s “villainous” performance in last year’s Jupiter Ascending. If anyone is suffering from insomnia, listening to the dialogue from The Huntsman: Winter’s War would certainly help you get a good night’s sleep.

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(Source: IMDb)

6. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – Seth Rogen is one of the most overrated comedians in recent memory. Ever since Superbad (which I didn’t mind him in), he plays the same character over and over again. The R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party made me lost my appetite, but Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising was much worse.

Even though I somewhat enjoyed Neighbors, it went a little too far with its humor. Especially having way too many dick jokes. When they got it right, they got it right! Was a Neighbors 2 really necessary? If I saw this in theaters, I would have walked within ten minutes. Watching this in the comfort of my own home resulted in a painful film-watching experience. It’s raunchier and a lot nastier than its predecessor. One of the early scenes involving Mac and Kelly’s (Rogen and Rose Byrne reprising their roles) daughter—now a toddler—holding a dildo sums up the film’s humor. I did chuckle a few times throughout the 90-minute duration, but I didn’t laugh out loud. The dramatic moments felt forced and the craziness of the sorority felt tiresome. How come Seth Rogen and Zac Efron became good friends at the end of the first film even though they were big enemies is beyond me. Chloe Grace Moretz is a talented young actress, but she needs to take a break from raunchy comedies and young-adult adaptations, which leads to a perfect segue to my pick for number five.

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(Source: comingsoon.net)

5. The 5th Wave – Another misfire starring Chloe Grace Moretz. Instead of fighting against neighbors, she’s fighting to save the world. The 5th Wave had promise early on when they talked about the different disasters Earth had faced leading up to the potential “Fifth Wave”, where kids are separated into military-based groups to save the world from aliens. Then, it quickly goes to generic and predictable territory. With the popularity of The Hunger Games, everyone apparently decided to make these rip-offs to attract teenagers. Moretz is trying her hardest to save it from being an absolute disaster. I don’t know what the hell Live Schreiber was thinking when he signed to do this film. The lack of originality, bland performances from everybody, and the mundanity of its narrative and direction wasn’t enough to hold my attention.

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(Source: Collider)

4. Yoga Hosers – If you any of you seen him in interviews, Kevin Smith is one of the most awesome people working today. Not only does he create some funny and honest films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, he also knows a lot about comic books. After a very limited theatrical release, his second entry in his True North trilogy—the first being Tusk, which I avoided like the plague—has earned its cult status on Netflix. I have never seen anything this absurd and irritating in my life! Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith play two teenagers who spend most of their time on their smartphones and playing in a band while working at a Winnipeg convenience store. One night, they fight off Nazis in the form of bratwursts. It’s definitely as bad as it sounds.

These two actresses do have long careers ahead of them, but they play two of the most annoying characters I’ve seen all year. Not only are the Canadian stereotypes are appalling, it also features godawful one-liners and even worse jokes that it made my jaw drop. And Johnny Depp is just doing his usual Depp-isms, but in a French-Canadian accent. I cannot listen to “Babe” by Styx the same way ever again.

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(Source: Flavorwire)

3. Mother’s Day – The world said goodbye to Garry Marshall this past summer when he passed away from pneumonia. He is one of the most down-to-earth people in the world, but it doesn’t change the fact that his movies aren’t entirely good. Mother’s Day, his last directed film, follows the same structure as his previous two duds—Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day (which I’m not going to bother with). Where we see several different storylines of different people on how they go on with their lives during a certain holiday. This movie feels more like a two-hour long sitcom episode than an actual film. It has every single stereotype in the book—from gay people to people of different races (case in point, Indian people). The jokes are horrendous and the story arcs just come off as syrupy. Not to mention one embarrassing scene where the mother (Margo Martindale) of two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke) doesn’t get a warm welcome due to seeing one of her daughters coming out of the closet. With an all-star cast including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, and Garry Marshall-regular Hector Elizondo (one of the saving graces of Valentine’s Day), I could see the outcome of each arc coming from a mile away. Julia Robert’s wig plays out as a much better character.

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(Source: IMDb)

2. Dirty Grandpa – How can a great actor like Robert De Niro waste his talent in such a dreadful piece of work? It’s easy! Have him do a scene where he his grandson (welcome back to the list, Zac Efron!) catches him masturbating through porn. That’s not the worst of it. I never been so close to walking out of a theater when I saw Dirty Grandpa back in January. Every scene gets worse and worse. From De Niro making jokes about his grandson’s fiancée’s pink VW beetle to having a nude Efron waking up on a beach from a hangover wearing nothing but a bumblebee fanny pack with beer bottles surrounding him to De Niro cursing more than he does in every single Scorsese movie he has been in combined. No one tries to be funny, and every single character annoyed me to the point where I could not take it anymore. Once Dirty Grandpa was finally over, I literally walked out of the theater in shock. I went home to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to get the bad taste out of my mouth. But—at least it’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year.

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(Source: AskMen)

1. Nine Lives – A lot of people, like myself, thought this movie was a damn joke after watching the preview. Sadly, it’s a real movie about Kevin Spacey playing a successful NYC businessman who wants to buy his daughter a cat for her birthday. An accident leads him to the hospital, and his body is put inside the cat by a cat-store owner/cat whisperer (Christopher Walken, who looked like he walked on the set to star in the sequel to Click). What makes this Shaggy Dog rip-off (The Shaggy Cat?) so awful is that Barry Sonnenfeld directed it. He went from directing Men in Black, one of the funniest sci-fi films of the 20th century, to directing this puddle of cat piss. Not only was the film not funny at all, even Kevin Spacey looked like he didn’t want to be a part of this movie. Even his “one-liners” sum up his feeling about this movie (“Just drown me,” he says when he is given a bath as a cat). I love cats, and I do admit the cat is gorgeous, but I have seen other cats portraying so much better performances than in Nine Lives (Keanu anyone?). Hell, I’ve seen better CGI in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance than in this film. One of the subplots involves Spacey wanting to create the tallest building in the country, which will bore kids to tears with its talk about business. It’s just amazing how bad Nine Lives is!

I hope you enjoyed what my picks are for the worst films of 2016 as much as I did tearing them apart. Feel free to leave any comments about what are some bad movies you had to endure this year. Stay tuned for my list of the best movies of 2016.

Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies for 2016

2015 is over. There have been a lot of surprises and disappointments than last year. Not to mention a lot of great films as well as some miraculous performances. It’s going to be so hard who and what will win in this year’s Academy Awards. But, this is not what I’m talking about.

I’m going to talk about the movies I’m looking forward to in the New Year. It looks like 2016 is going to be a fun year for movies as last year. I’m going to give you a list of my most anticipated movies for this year.

Before I begin, I just want to let you all know that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is not going be on this list. I’m definitely going to see it when it comes out March 25th. However, I have a feeling it might turn out to be garbage. I mildly enjoyed Man of Steel, and Henry Cavill was a good choice for Superman (it’s great to have him back). I admit Ben Affleck looks cool in the Batsuit, but I can’t (and will never) picture him as Batman/Bruce Wayne. It looks like Jesse Eisenberg will steal the show as Lex Luthor. Zack Snyder is a unique visionary director, but his substance is rather lacking. Who knows? I might be wrong.

Without further ado, here’s my list of the top 20 most anticipated movies of 2016.

Honorable Mentions: The Accountant (October 7), The Bourne Sequel (July 29), The Finest Hours (January 29), The Free State of Jones (May 13), Gambit (October 7), The Huntsman: Winter’s War (April 22), The Legend of Tarzan (July 1), Moana (November 23), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (December 25), Silence (TBA) Snowden (May 13), Suicide Squad (August 5), Sully (September 9)

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20. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (in theaters February 5; directed by Burr Steers; starring Lily James, Matt Smith, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, and Lena Heady) – To start off the bat, I have a feeling this will undoubtedly suck. However, this adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling parody looks like a fun guilty pleasure. Jane Austen meets The Walking Dead. How fun can it get? Also, Lily James is a freaking goddess!

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19. Inferno (in theaters October 14; directed by Ron Howard; starring Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, and Ben Foster) – Tom Hanks and Ron Howard are back to give us another adventure with Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon! This time, we are going to see him wake up in a hospital in Florence, Italy. With no memory of the recent events, he goes on the run looking for answers. I personally enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. They both kept me on the edge of my seat with its fascinating history, mysteries, and, obviously, the excellent performance by Hanks. But, it’s hard to deny their flaws. It looks like I am in for another good ride with Inferno.

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18. The Jungle Book (in theaters April 15; directed by Jon Favreau; starring Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, and Neel Sethi) – When Disney started doing live-action remakes for the new generation, I became quite skeptical. Tim Burton’s 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland started off that trend. It became a ginormous box-office hit, but mostly everyone hated it. It was visually stunning but everything else was a bit of a disaster. Then, Maleficent was released four years later. Even though Angelina Jolie was born to play Disney’s most famous villainess, why make her a good person? Kenneth Branagh brought us, in my opinion, the best version of Cinderella (Walt Disney would have been proud of it, if he was alive today).

Even though I haven’t seen the original in years, I’m liking the looks of the new version of The Jungle Book. I appreciate Jon Favreau not only as an actor, but also as a filmmaker. With films like Iron Man and Elf, he brings a unique visual style and narrative. The voice cast is nothing short of excellent–Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, and Christopher Walken as King Louie. It also has a little Life of Pi vibe to it (considering they are somewhat similar). As much as I’m looking forward to this, I’m still waiting for the remake of Beauty and the Beast.

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17. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (in theaters June 10; directed by James Wan; starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Simon McBurney, Sterling Jerins, and Frances O’Connor) – The Conjuring was a breath of fresh air. It did have plot devices everyone is familiar with (i.e. a family moving into a new house surrounded by an evil entity). What James Wan does with the true story of the Harrisville investigation by Ed and Lorraine Warren (played to perfection by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) is avoid any cheap scares and deliver an old-fashioned horror film relying on atmosphere.

Due to the success of that film, the disappointing spin-off Annabelle came out a year later. The beginning of The Conjuring talks about the Warren’s investigation of the Annabelle doll (the true story, in fact, consisted of a cursed Raggedy-Ann doll; the Annabelle in the film is a ventriloquist doll to make it more creepy). Now, the sequel reprises Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens traveling to London to investigate a poltergeist consisting of two daughters. With James Wan returning to the director’s chair, I am ready for another scary good time.

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16. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in theaters November 18; directed by David Yates; starring Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, and Jon Voight) – It’s fascinating to set a story 70 years before our beloved protagonist Harry Potter heads to Hogwarts. Eddie Redmayne is already becoming one of my favorite actors. After getting success for his roles in The Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl, it looks like he’s going to have a ball playing the magizoologist Newt Scamander, who heads to New York City for a brief stop to publish his studies of the magical creatures in the Wizarding World. Then, a No-Maj (the American word for “Muggle”) releases the fantastic beasts out of Scamander’s suitcase. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I have nothing but a good feeling about this.

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15. Star Trek Beyond (in theaters July 22; directed by Justin Lin; starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and Idris Elba) – I’m not the biggest Trekkie. When I saw J.J. Abram’s 2009 version of Star Trek, it introduced me into a futuristic universe “to boldly go where no man has gone before”. The origin story of human James T. Kirk and the Vulcan Spock gave a lot of emotional support. From the breathtaking special effects, witty dialogue, and the awesome characters, I enjoyed every second of it. The sequel Star Trek into Darkness did have its flaws, but it was as enjoyable as before. It was where Benedict Cumberbatch became one of my favorite actors. Now, Fast and Furious director Justin Lin is taking over for Abrams to direct the third entry of what is officially a trilogy. I’m looking forward to see the Enterprise crew actually discovering new worlds and civilizations. It looks like this will be the funniest in the new Star Trek film series.

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14. The Girl on the Train (in theaters October 7; directed by Tate Taylor; starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Haley Bennett, and Édgar Ramírez – Based on the bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins, the film stars Emily Blunt as a woman witnessing a murder on the train. While trying to get the pieces of the puzzle together, she begins she might have been involved in the crime. From reading the plot summary, this sounds like an Agatha Christie story or another Gone Girl. Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up) directs this murder mystery. I always like a good murder mystery. Without hearing too much of the story, I can’t wait to go in with an open mind.

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13. Doctor Strange (in theaters November 4; directed by Scott Derrickson; starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, and Mads Mikkelson) – Like I mentioned before, Benedict Cumberbatch is becoming one of my favorite actors. From Sherlock to The Imitation Game, he sure does know how to bring the wisdom into those roles. Now, he’s about to tackle another ambitious yet fun role: Doctor Strange. Without knowing too much of the superhero, seeing the picture of Cumberbatch in costume makes it look like he was born to play the role. Even though we have yet to see a trailer for Doctor Strange, I’m hoping it will look good.

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12. Warcraft (in theaters June 10; directed by Duncan Jones; starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Daniel Wu, and Dominic Cooper) – I have never played any of the Warcraft video games. Everyone remembers World of Warcraft becoming the most popular online game ever. Duncan Jones transitions from his low-budget sci-fi status of Moon and the smart mainstream sci-fi hit Source Code to direct a big-budget fantasy adaptation of the first Warcraft video game from 1994 (Orcs and Humans). With a lot of horrible video game adaptations coming out over the years, this might break the streak to deliver a visually dazzling battle between the humans and orcs. This looks like it will be a new Lord of the Rings.

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11. Hail, Caesar! (in theaters February 5; directed by the Coen Brothers; starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, and Channing Tatum) – Joel and Ethan Coen have made some of the best films of all-time (The Big Lebowski, True Grit, to name a few). This satire of the film industry has one of the best casts this decade. George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Ralph Fiennes, among others. I’m sensing this might be the first great movie of 2016.

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10. The BFG (in theaters July 1; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Ruby Barnhill, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Wilton, Bill Hader, and Mark Rylance) – It has been over twenty years since Steven Spielberg has directed a straight-up family flick. He is back to direct an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Mark Rylance is perfect in every sense!

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9. Everybody Wants Some (in theaters April 15; directed by Richard Linklater; starring Tyler Hoechlin, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Blake Jenner, and Wyatt Russell) – Richard Linklater’s follow-up to Boyhood brings us back to the 1980s. It’s sort of a sequel to Dazed and Confused. It’s been getting some early praise for being funny and touching. Count me in!

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8. X-Men: Apocalypse (in theaters May 27; directed by Bryan Singer; starring Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Rose Byrne)– 2014’s Days of Future Past is one of the best films in the X-Men franchise. It brought the older versions of the characters we know and love collaborating with their younger selves. And it features the funniest and coolest action sequence of the decade. Bryan Singer is only bringing back the younger characters back to fight Apocalypse (played by the great Oscar Isaac).

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7. Captain America: Civil War (in theaters May 6; directed by the Russo brothers; starring Chris Evans; Robert Downey Jr., Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, and Martin Freeman) – Captain America vs. Iron Man. What more needs to be said?

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6. The Nice Guys (in theaters May 20; directed by Shane Black; starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger, Ty Simpkins, and Matt Bomer) – Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are two wonderful actors. Seeing them working with each other is like a dream come true. Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) brings 1970s Los Angeles to life.

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5. La La Land (in theaters July 15; directed by Damien Chazelle; starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, and John Legend) – Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash takes a more whimsical side. A musical love-story starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a jazz pianist and actress falling in love in 1950s Los Angeles. And J.K. Simmons is going to have a small role as the boss. I’m hoping for a toe-tapping good time in the theater.

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4. The Witch (in theaters February 19; directed by Robert Eggers; starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Lucas Dawson, and Julian Richings) – Finally! A horror film (also a big hit at last year’s Sundance) that relies on nothing but pure atmosphere.

3. Star Wars: Rogue One (in theaters December 16; directed by Gareth Edwards; starring Felicity Jones, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, and Mads Mikkelson) – Come on! It’s Star Wars! And it takes place before the events of the first Star Wars!

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2. Finding Dory (in theaters June 17; directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane; starring Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy, Diane Keaton, and Idris Elba)– 13 years ago, Finding Nemo was released in theaters. My 7-year-old self never seen anything like it before; going under the sea where different species of fish interact with each other. In 2016, we get a sequel centering on the beloved Blue Tang fish Dory with short-term memory loss. Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their roles as Dory and Marlin. Disney/PIXAR have a lot of sequels as well as some original films up their sleeves. I’m so exciting see them all! Okay, maybe except for Cars 3.

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1. Deadpool (in theaters February 12; directed by Tim Miller; starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, and Stefan Kapicic) – Seriously, who isn’t looking forward to this movie? It’s rare to see a superhero movie getting a hard-R. Ryan Reynolds is going to own Deadpool!

Here’s to a good 2016!

Top 15 Best Movies of 2015

Despite the many flops the year had to offer, 2015 was the year of strong, independent female characters, wonderful dramas, hilarious comedies, breathtaking action, and some notable directors finding redemption (M. Night Shyamalan coming back with The Visit is among many examples). I was surprised by a lot of films this year, even ones I became too skeptical on. Since there was a lot of great movies in 2015, here is my list of the top 15 best movies of the year. Keep in mind, I haven’t seen every great movie. Don’t expect movies like The Hateful Eight, Spotlight, Carol, or The Danish Girl on this list.

Honorable Mentions: Ant-Man, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Cinderella, Far from the Madding Crowd, Furious 7, It Follows, Mr. Holmes, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Peanuts Movie, Straight Outta Compton

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15. Ex Machina – Talk about an original sci-fi picture that is provocative, unexpected, and chilling to the core! With three terrific performances by Domnhall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and a scene-stealing Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina brings the issues of artificial intelligence and how advanced technology has control in everyday life. The beautiful, haunting visuals through Alex Garland’s direction makes it such a treat. Ava (played wonderfully by Vikander) is one of the best special effects creations in recent years.

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14. Steve Jobs – I don’t know why this movie didn’t get the audience it deserved. Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin create an emotionally intense portrait of one of the most influential people in technology. Told in a three-act structure, the movie follows Jobs as he is about to appear for his product launches of the Macintosh, the NeXT, and the iMac. Even though he looks absolutely nothing like Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender gives one hell of a performance as the Apple CEO. With a gifted supporting cast and miraculous dialogue, Steve Jobs is The Social Network of 2015.

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13. Amy – The best documentary of the year chronicles Amy Winehouse’s fame and personal struggles. I knew very little about Winehouse, but I remember the day she died of alcohol poisoning. Seeing this documentary made me knew more about the life of one of the most original singers of the early 21st century. She brought a different style to the contemporary music world. A lot of people were used to hearing pop and hip-hop, Winehouse was more about blues, soul, and jazz. She became huge success worldwide. Then, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol. When she died at the age of 27, she left behind a great legacy.

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12. The End of the Tour – I love movies involving two people having a fascinating conversation. The End of the Tour is no exception. It features Jason Segel in his best performance as the late author David Foster Wallace, whose 1,000+ page book Infinite Jest made him become a big name. Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone who decides to have a five-day interview with him. They live up on junk food, binge-watching (before “binge-watching” became a thing), and spending time around the Mall of America. The chemistry between these two actors is so compelling I never wanted their conversation to end. Poignant, funny, and all-around excellent.

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11. The Gift – This movie surprised the hell out of me! Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut is so Hitchcockian in its style and narrative. Starring along with Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, Edgerton makes one hell of a creepy stalker. It’s unnerving, unpredictable, and engaging in every way. Seeing his face sends shivers down my spine.

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10. Creed – Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler return two years after collaborating in Fruitvale Station. In Creed, they bring the beloved Rocky series back to life. Sylvester Stallone returns as our favorite boxer from Philadelphia: Rocky Balboa. This time, he has retired from boxing. And starts training the son of Apollo Creed. Coogler perfectly blends old-fashioned drama with the excellent boxing scenes; especially the first fight consists of a five-minute long take. The chemistry between Michael B. Jordan and Stallone is one-of-a-kind.

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9. Bridge of Spies – Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are two of my favorite people working today. Bridge of Spies proves it. Their latest masterpiece is one of the most fascinating projects: an old-fashioned, dialogue-driven Cold War thriller. With a screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen, Spielberg and Hanks take us back to a time where America was living in a state of fear. The biggest fear is no other than Communism. The tension is brought through with the astounding dialogue and Thomas Newman’s breathtaking score. Hanks delivers yet another wonderful performance as insurance lawyer Jim Donavon, who brought “justice for all”.

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8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – This Sundance winner would make Wes Anderson proud. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon creates an offbeat comedy with a big heart. Thomas Mann, R.J. Cyler, and Olivia Cooke have long careers ahead of them. Their compelling chemistry brings enough laughs and tears to the story about two high school seniors creating spoofs of art films while befriending a girl with leukemia. It’s hard not to relate to the main character Greg. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is more than just a high school film, it’s a love letter to the art of filmmaking. Watching Nick Offerman as Greg’s dad convincing his son and Greg’s friend Earl to try these weird foods is priceless.

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7. Mad Max: Fury Road – Easily the best action film of the year featuring some of the best action of this decade. George Miller reboots the Mad Max franchise thirty years after Beyond Thunderdome. With a basic narrative about finding hope and redemption, Mad Max: Fury Road is an engine that never runs out of steam. It’s refreshing to see mostly practical effects to give a sense on how insane Miller’s apocalyptic wasteland is where people are in desperate need of food, water, and gas. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron make a terrific duo. Take notes from the master, Michael Bay.

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6. Love & Mercy – The music of the Beach Boys truly define the feeling of summer. The band started to record songs for Pet Sounds. Instead of doing songs about summer, Brian Wilson decided to make the songs for listening. Then, he begins having panic attacks. Told in two timelines–1960s and the 1980s–we follow Brian Wilson, played wonderfully by Paul Dano and John Cusack, as he begins to lose grip on reality. Bill Pohlad gives a devastating biopic on one of the best musicians of the 20th century inside and outside of the studio through his brilliant direction. Love & Mercy is an experience I’ll never forget.

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5. Inside Out – After the disappointments of Cars 2, Brave and Monsters University, PIXAR is back with Inside Out. It gives something original, ambitious, creative, imaginative, relatable, funny, and downright heartbreaking. The metaphors and the breathtaking animation make it a feast for the ears and the eyes. The voice acting is superb, the characters are as lovable as ever, and the emotion is raw. Seeing this three times in the theaters made me love it more each viewing. It makes everyone wonder what is going on inside our heads.

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4. The Martian – Ridley Scott’s directing career has been in the gutter for years. In The Martian, he gives a survival tale that is as funny as it is suspenseful. With Drew Goddard’s witty screenplay, Matt Damon’s Watney the most optimistic survivalist ever (or as I like to describe him as a classier Bear Grylls). “In your face, Neil Armstrong,” he wisecracks as he colonizes Mars. During his time on Mars, he listens to disco music from Michael Lewis’ (excellent performance by Jessica Chastain) playlist. With an all-star cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, and Kate Mara, hilarious pop culture references, and breathtaking cinematography, The Martian is Ridley Scott’s new masterpiece. This movie has the best Lord of the Rings reference (I was in stitches).

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3. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – I know I haven’t posted a review for the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga. Because I didn’t want to spoil for anyone who has yet to see it. To keep it as brief as I possibly can, The Force Awakens is everything I want in a Star Wars movie: funny, breathtaking, exciting, and touching. It introduces new characters (Daisy Ridley’s Rey is one of the best characters of the year) as well as some familiar faces. Thanks J.J. Abrams for bringing the saga back to the silver screen!

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2. Brooklyn – What a charming love story. John Crowley pays tribute to his native Ireland as well as the films of the 1950s (in which Brooklyn is set). The movie doesn’t come close to becoming a soap opera. Brooklyn is as human of a movie as it gets, kudos to Crowley’s direction and Nick Hornby’s screenplay. Saoirse Ronan gives the performance of a lifetime as an Irish immigrant trying to settle in Brooklyn. When she falls in love with an Italian-American plumber, she must choose to live in America or Ireland. Brooklyn is a wonderful study in homesickness with enough wit, charm and emotion.

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1. Room – Going into this movie with barely any expectations at all made the experience so much better; I knew I wanted to see it again. Now I have seen it twice, Lenny Abrahamson and Emma Donaghue give  a raw, intense film about taking the big step into the big world. Seen through the eyes of 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay, in an award-worthy performance), he has been living in a small garden shed with no windows (except for a skylight) with Ma (another wonderful performance by Brie Larson). During the first act, we see Ma (Joy) and Jack living in Room. As Jack begins to understand more about the situation they are in, he slowly begins to make that huge transition in life. His memories and imaginations are in Room. As the second act comes into play, he becomes more comfortable living in the real world. Ma, however, is struggling to find what is best for her son. What a movie!

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best movies of 2015. I’m looking forward to see what 2016 has to offer. Please feel free to leave a comment on what some of your favorite movies of the year are. Stay tuned for my top 20 most anticipated movies of the new year. Take care.

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2015

2015 is coming to a close. It’s about that time to recap the good and the bad movies of this year. And also what has yet to come out in 2016. 2015 has been one hell of a year for movies. As a matter of fact, there have been more surprises than last year. I’m happy I went to see what I ended up seeing this year.

But, 2015 has been known for getting more box-office disappointments than the last five years. Out of the 66 films I’ve seen, I’m going to start off with the ten movies I regret seeing in 2015. Bear with me, I haven’t seen every single bad movie. Don’t expect to see movies like Terminator: Genisys, Vacation, Jem and the Holograms or Ted 2 on this list. Without further ado, let’s start my top ten list of the worst movies of the year.

Dishonorable Mentions: Blackhat, Everest, Pixels, Poltergeist

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10. Chappie – Starting off the countdown is Neill Blomkamp’s third film after District 9 and Elysium. He gives some great ideas into this movie. Concerning how crime in a not-too-distant future. Taking place in Blomkamp’s native Johannesburg, the government agrees to create a robot police force to decrease the crime rate. For a movie with a $50 million budget, the effects are pretty good and Sharlto Copley brings the title character to life through motion capture. That doesn’t make up for what is wrong with the movie. Playing fictional versions of themselves, the popular South African rap duo Die Antwoord play two of the most annoying characters ever. It rips off many sci-fi films including Robocop, the tone is all over the place, the action is obnoxious, and the cast featuring Dev Patel and Sigourney Weaver is wasted (not to mention Hugh Jackman being absolutely painful to watch). It almost plays out like a two-hour Die Antwoord music video. Let’s hope Neill Blomkamp redeems himself when he directs the Alien prequel (if it ever gets made).

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9. Child 44 – Before he played Mad Max, Tom Hardy stars as a Russian agent in this unfocused mess. Starring alongside Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace, the accents are distracting to the point where I couldn’t take anything seriously. The movie has no idea if it wants to be a mystery or a political thriller. Either way, Child 44 is neither thrilling nor surprising. From start to finish, it’s downright boring.

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8. The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death – The first Woman in Black is a solid haunted house picture featuring an eerie atmosphere and a breakthrough performance by Daniel Radcliffe. The sequel forgets everything on what the original mastered. Instead, it makes it rely on those stupid jump scares. I’m not a big horror buff, but this movie sums up on what is wrong about today’s horror movies. But I’m glad the movie didn’t have unnecessary blood and gore. I feel so bad for everyone involved especially Jeremy Irvine (War Horse).

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7. Aloha – As you could tell, 2015 had a lot of movies featuring an all-star cast. With Aloha, director Cameron Crowe presses the autopilot button from the beginning. The movie stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone (who plays someone who is 1/4 Hawaiian; don’t ask), Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinki, and Bill Murray. Neither of them had any chemistry whatsoever. It has no idea what it wants to be. Is it supposed to be a romantic comedy? A family drama? A subplot involving a satellite launch? What the hell is going on!? The movie is not funny, not romantic, and not surprising. Aloha? More like Good Riddance!

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6. Hot Pursuit – Boy, is this an annoying experience!? It looks like Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara had a great time making the movie. But, Hot Pursuit doesn’t showcase any of their talents at all. The jokes fall flat, the writing is beyond lazy, and there is little to enjoy. I chuckled a couple times throughout the 90-minute duration. Hearing Sofia Vergara yell at the top of her lungs throughout the entire film drives me up the wall.

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5. Jupiter Ascending – When The Matrix was released in 1999, the Wachowskis brought the science fiction genre to a whole new level with its groundbreaking effects and a thought-provoking narrative. In Jupiter Ascending, one of the biggest flops of the year, they rip off every single sci-fi film in the last 40 years (Star Wars, Blade Runner, Signs, the list goes on). The decent chase scene through Chicago doesn’t save it from being a cluttered mess. Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis are both likable actors. But they manage to take their roles way too serious (their “romance” is like something out of Twilight). Don’t get me started on Eddie Redmayne’s performance as the villain. He speaks in this stupid, quiet monotone throughout the entire film, and has sudden outbursts (“I CREATE LIFE! . . . And I destroy it.” is among one of the many awful lines). I feel so bad for everyone involved.

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4. Mortdecai – Remember this movie back in January? Before tackling the part of Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, Johnny Depp plays the title character (similar to Jacques Clouseau in The Pink Panther) who tries to get his hands on a Nazi bank account. He has played the same quirky character over and over. When he overacts, it gets tiresome. The stupid action, the lame jokes, and the huge waste of talent makes Mortdecai a good place as one of the worst movies of the year.

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3. Serena – Welcome back, Bradley Cooper. After their first on-screen appearance in Silver Linings Playbook, he and Jennifer Lawrence star in a movie that it as lifeless, derivative and unintentionally funny as Serena. Filmed in 2012 and got delayed for three years, Susanne Beir gives the Depression-era setting as something pleasing to the eye. However, everything feels rushed and unfinished. With a supporting cast involving Rhys Ifans and Toby Jones, there is no chemistry between any of the characters whatsoever.

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2. Fant4stic – Everyone — including myself — was looking forward to seeing the reboot of the Fantastic Four. I couldn’t imagine a better cast to play the group of superheroes than Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell. When I heard Josh Trank (Chronicle) directing this, I was sold. I wanted to enjoy this movie bad. After seeing what I saw, I wanted to take everything I said before seeing it back. Fant4stic is nothing but exposition. None of the four characters worked as a team (don’t get me started on the “action-filled” climax), the effects are absolutely awful; not to mention the painfully obvious green screen, Dr. Doom and the supporting characters are a bore. I don’t know if a director’s cut will make that much of a difference. But I’m glad there isn’t going to be a sequel to this pile of garbage.

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1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – Kevin James is a likable talent. He is mostly remember for getting his big break on The King of Queens. However, with the unnecessary sequel to the 2009 hit (which wasn’t any good but not entirely awful), it doesn’t showcase any of his talents at all. Seriously, how can a scene involving Paul fighting an angry peacock be funny? Not a single joke works, every single character is stupid, the villains aren’t intimidating (I feel sorry for Neal McDonough–yes, “Dum Dum” Dugan–for being a part of this mess), and the action is just embarrassing to watch. Also, it feels like every Happy Madison production, starting with Grown Ups, is a vacation disguised as a movie. Why can the actors use the money to take a vacation without needing a film crew?

I hope you enjoyed what my picks of the worst movies of 2015 are. Feel free to leave a comments on what movies you regret seeing this past year. Stay tuned for my list of the best movies of 2015. Have a happy new year!

Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of the Fall of 2015

2015 has been a pretty damn good year for film. There were as much surprises and disappointments as last year. This fall seems to have a lot of supposedly great films that have yet to come out. There’s a highly anticipated sequel that might top Avatar and Jurassic World as the highest-grossing film of all-time, another film from the brilliant minds of PIXAR, plenty of historical pieces, a biopic about one of the most influential people who changed technology for the better, and a handful of riveting dramas. I made a top twenty list of my most anticipated movies of this Oscar movie season.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): About Ray (September 18), Burnt (October 23), Concussion (December 25), Everest (September 18) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (November 20), In the Heart of the Sea (December 11), Pan (October 9), The Peanuts Movie (November 6), Sicario (September 18), Snowden (December 25)

20. The Visit20. The Visit (in theaters September 11; directed by M. Night Shyamalan; starring Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, Kathryn Hahn, and Peter McRobbie) – Ever since getting unanimous success with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, it looked like M. Night Shyamalan had a long career ahead of him. Not to mention being known as “The Next Steven Spielberg”. After the critical failure – but financial success – of The Village, his career slowly went downhill. His last five films have made him one of the most hated people in Hollywood (Lady in the Water will always be a guilty pleasure of mine). Why am I looking forward to his latest film, The Visit? I want to see him redeem himself after his previous disasters (After Earth, in particular). The film is marketed as a low-budget comedic horror film. There is a sense it might be awful, but I have faith it might turn out to be an eerie midnight movie. Fingers crossed.

19. Sisters19. Sisters (in theaters December 18; directed by Jason Moore; starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, and John Cena) – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest actresses working today. This movie seems to be no exception. Their chemistry together is the main focus. Being from the director of Pitch Perfect, this might be the funniest film of the year. The trailer had me laughing out loud quite a bit.

18. Suffragette18. Suffragette (in theaters October 23; directed by Sarah Gavron; starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson) – 2015 has been a year featuring strong, independent female protagonists. From Cinderella to Mad Max: Fury Road to Far from the Madding Crowd. Suffragette looks like the most feminist movie of all. It takes place during the British suffrage movement of the 20th century where women are forced to work underground. We follow three women fighting for women’s rights. It’s no surprise that the Academy loves Meryl Streep. This seems to be her most challenging role to date. Starring alongside Carey Mulligan (fabulous in Far from the Madding Crowd) and Helena Bonham Carter, this movie screams “Oscar bait!”

17. Creed17. Creed (in theaters November 25; directed by Ryan Coogler; starring Michael B. Jordan, Graham McTavish, Phylicia Rashad, Mark Rhino Smith, and Sylvester Stallone) – Rocky is one of the best movies of all-time. It’s a film about rivalry, fighting for one’s life, and going the distance. Creed, the spin-off from the director of Fruitvale Station, brings us back to the streets of Philadelphia. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson Creed, who wants to follow his father’s (Apollo Creed) footsteps to become a boxer. When Sylvester Stallone returns to reprise his role of Rocky Balboa, it’s hard not to get pumped up.

16. The Martian16. The Martian (in theaters October 2; directed by Ridley Scott; starring Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, and Jessica Chastain) – Ridley Scott’s career has been in the gutter ever since Robin Hood. Despite his controversial Alien prequel Prometheus, he hasn’t been making a fantastic movie in years. The Martian has a possibility to redeem him from blandness. With Matt Damon leading an all-star cast, this looks like one hell of a funny and suspenseful film about one man’s struggle to survive.

15. Carol15. Carol (in theaters November 20; directed by Todd Haynes; starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sara Paulson, Jake Lacy, and Kyle Chandler) – A lesbian love story that looks engaging. Cate Blanchett plays the title character where she meets a department store clerk who is attracted to her. Everything about this movie looks perfect. From the casting to the story. Todd Haynes brings the 1950s to life. I’m glad to see Kyle Chandler taking a break from playing a government official.

14. Steve Jobs14. Steve Jobs (in theaters October 9; directed by Danny Boyle; starring Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, John Ortiz, and Jeff Daniels) – Another biopic of the CEO of Apple. This follows Steve Jobs and the events surrounding his launches of products including the iMac. However, his involvement with Apple begins to affect his family life. I have not seen the film with Ashton Kutcher. But I can say that this version looks a million times better. With Danny Boyle behind the camera and Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay, I sense that this is going to be one emotionally tense flick. Michael Fassbender looks like he’s going to hit it out of the park as Jobs.

13. Brooklyn13. Brooklyn (in theaters November 6; directed by John Crowley; starring Saoirse Ronan, Domnhall Gleeson, Michael Zegen, Emily Bett Rickards, and Julie Walters) – Another movie that brings the 1950s to life. Brooklyn is the love story following a young Irish immigrant woman moving to Brooklyn. She falls in love with a young Italian man, but she quickly starts getting homesick. She must choose between the U.S. and Ireland. Unlike most romances nowadays, this looks charming without being too sappy. The cinematography looks gorgeous. Saoirse Ronan is a delight!

12. Legend12. Legend (in theaters October 2; directed Brian Helegland; starring Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, and Chazz Palminteri) – Tom Hardy has had one hell of a decade. He was a member of a heist team where they can infiltrate people’s dream, a MMA fighter, Bane, an outlaw during the Prohibition era, and Mad Max. Now, in Legend, he plays twins Ron and Reggie Kray, who were part of the mafia in London during the 1960s where it’s becoming “Las Vegas of Europe”. From the director of A Knight’s Tale and 42, this does look like your typical Hollywood picture. But this looks like a lot of fun.

11. The Walk11. The Walk (in theaters September 30; directed by Robert Zemeckis; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale, and Charlotte Le Bon) – I’m glad Robert Zemeckis went back to live-action following the box-office bomb of the animated film Mars Needs Moms. Flight is one of the best movies so far this decade featuring one of Denzel Washington’s best performance of his career. The Walk follows the unbelievable story of Phillippe Petit’s involvement of doing the impossible: walking on high wire between the Twin Towers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is becoming one of the greatest actors working today. I do have a feeling his French accent is a little bit cartoonish. But I think he would pull it off well.

10. The Good Dinosaur10. The Good Dinosaur (in theaters November 25; directed by Peter Sohn; starring Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Anna Paquin, Steve Zahn, and Sam Elliott) – 2015 is the first year in which PIXAR releases two movies in the same year. Inside Out is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The Good Dinosaur might continue its streak becoming one of PIXAR’s best. The animation is some of the most breathtaking that PIXAR has done. Following the footsteps of the first half of Wall-E, this movie seems to feature minimal dialogue.

9. Crimson Peak9. Crimson Peak (in theaters October 16; directed by Guillermo del Toro; starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Doug Jones, and Charlie Hunnam) – Today, it’s rare that a horror film focuses more on the atmosphere instead of cheap jump scares. In Guillermo del Toro’s vision, it’s more than that. It’s a Gothic love story. Stephen King called it “Gorgeous and just fucking terrifying”. I cannot agree with him more on what the movie is going to look like.

8. Black Mass8. Black Mass (in theaters September 18; directed by Scott Cooper; starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, and Kevin Bacon) – Johnny Depp’s career isn’t holding up over the years. His last two movies – The Lone Ranger and Mortdecai – featured some of his worst performances. With a new Pirates of the Caribbean coming out in two years, I wouldn’t know if Depp would take on a different role. As a matter of fact, he did. In Black Mass, he plays Whitey Bulger, the most violent criminal in South Boston, who is on the FBI’s most wanted list. I have a feeling this would be Johnny Depp’s best roles in years. With a wonderful cast, very dark humor, and an engaging story, Black Mass looks like one hell of a movie.

7. Joy7. Joy (in theaters Christmas Day; directed by David O. Russell; starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Dascha Polanco, and Bradley Cooper) – David O. Russell reunites with the trio – Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro – from Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle to star in Joy. Starring Lawrence as the title character who creates a business with the Miracle Mop. What more is need to be said other than “This looks brilliant”?

6. Bridge of Spies6. Bridge of Spies (in theaters October 16; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell, Billy Magnussen, and Alan Alda) – Tom Hanks is my favorite actor, and Steven Spielberg is my favorite director. They are back to collaborate for the sixth time (if you could count Band of Brothers and The Pacific) in this Cold War thriller about an American lawyer negotiating the release of a Soviet Union pilot whose plane has been shot down. With the Joel and Ethan Coen writing the screenplay, I smell Oscar!

5. Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens5. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (in theaters December 18; directed by J.J. Abrams; starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford) – Seriously; who isn’t looking forward to seeing this? I’m ready to sit with a packed theater and have the experience of a lifetime!

4. The Hateful Eight4. The Hateful Eight (in theaters Christmas Day; directed by Quentin Tarantino; starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Channing Tatum) – Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. His extended dialogue scenes, wonderful cast, wit, drama, and trademark graphic violence make him such a master. Even though if his movies are long, they fly by like a breeze. His ninth feature The Hateful Eight, and his first shot in Ultra Panavision 70 mm film, looks breathtaking and tense in every way.

3. The Danish Girl3. The Danish Girl (in theaters November 27; directed by Tom Hooper; starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, and Matthias Schoenaerts) – Following the news of Caitlyn Jenner, the world is not going to shy away from the LGBT community. We’re going back to see how it all began in The Danish Girl, the true story of Einar Wegener living as the first person to ever undergo a male to female sex reassignment surgery to become Lili Elbe. With Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) behind the camera and Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as its star, I sense this is going to be one devastatingly beautiful character study. There is a chance that Redmayne might win his second consecutive Oscar.

2. Spectre2. Spectre (in theaters November 6; directed by Sam Mendes; starring Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, and Christoph Waltz) – James Bond has been around since 1962. With him being in 24 films, played by five different actors, that’s saying a lot. Spectre is Daniel Craig’s fourth time playing agent 007, and Sam Mendes’ second film as the director. Skyfall is the most breathtaking 007 film of all, thanks to Mendes’ directing. Looks like Spectre is going to be one of the best. The movie is going to feature James Bond’s origin story, which is going to be interesting.

1. The Revenant1. The Revenant (in theaters Christmas Day; directed Alejandro González Iñárritu; starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Paul Andersen, and Domnhall Gleeson) – It’s about time Leonardo DiCaprio wins his first ever Oscar. After winning an Oscar for Birdman, The Revenant seems to be Iñárritu’s most ambitious film ever. Being in these cold conditions seems to make the movie all the more intense. This movie has had some production delays because of the conditions. The crew has been searching for snow in South America. Not only is the schedule delayed, the budget has increased from $90 million to $135 million. Let’s hope Iñárritu finishes the movie in time to come out on Christmas.

Thanks for reading what my most anticipated movies of the fall are. Please feel free to leave a comment on what you are looking forward to. Take care.

Top 10 Best Movies of 2014

Now we’re working our way to the top. There are several great movies that I have missed in theaters this past year, like Whiplash, Nightcrawler, The Theory of Everything, John Wick, Foxcatcher, and St. Vincent. But I was lucky to catch lots of fantastic movies in theaters. Here is my list of the best movies of 2014.

Honorable Mentions: 22 Jump Street, American Sniper, Belle, Big Eyes, Big Hero 6, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chef, Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in our Stars, Fury, Godzilla, How to Train Your Dragon 2Interstellar (even though it was overhyped, there was plenty to like about this movie), Into the Woods, The LEGO Movie, Noah, Wild

Snowpiercer10. Snowpiercer – This is one of the best movies that got snubbed in this year’s Oscars. Korean director Bong Joon-Ho makes a futuristic picture with a George Orwell vibe. Global warming has been reversed, which causes humanity to be killed off. The remaining survivors aboard a train that is separated by three classes. Sitting in the caboose, one of the survivors (Chris Evans) leads a group of low-class citizens to make their way to the front of the train. Featuring an all-star cast, thought-provoking themes involving society, brutal action, and amazing special effects, Snowpiercer is worth the train ride.

hobbit-battle-armies9. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – I personally consider The Hobbit as the most underrated film trilogy. It was great going back to experience the magical world of Middle-Earth while reuniting with characters that I’ve known, loved, or loved to hate; as well as meeting new faces. This trilogy has been a long, unexpected, and downright exciting journey. Even though the trilogy changed the main focus to be on Thorin Oakenshield than Bilbo Baggins, it still stays true to J.R.R. Tolkien’s book. Being the shortest film in the franchise (144 minutes), The Battle of the Five Armies ends the trilogy with a bang. A lot of emotion, breathtaking battle scenes (especially the final battle being the best since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and an amazing song by Billy Boyd playing during the end credits is enough to become one of the year’s best. Thank you, Peter Jackson, for making two of the best film trilogies in recent years.

THE IMITATION GAME8. The Imitation Game – Benedict Cumberbatch is becoming one of my favorite actors. From playing detective Sherlock Holmes to the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy, now he plays Alan Turing in an exquisite performance. If you don’t know who he is, he was a leader of the breaking of the Enigma code during World War II. Then, he became convicted for his homosexuality, which was considered illegal in the U.K. in 1952. Despite the problems he went through, he became the inspiration for the computer that I’m typing my blog posts on. I don’t give a damn if this movie is historically inaccurate. A historical piece doesn’t have to be accurate. I loved every bit of this funny, heartbreaking, and moving historical piece.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past7. X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer came back to direct the sequel to X-Men: First Class eleven years after X2: X-Men United. Not only is it one of the best movies from the summer, it’s also the best in the X-Men franchise. It’s great to have Brits Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen reprising their roles of Professor X/Charles Xavier and Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr. But the focus is on Logan/Wolverine, as always excellently played by Hugh Jackman, as the team uses his consciousness to send him back to 1973 to prevent robots from taking over the world. Along the way, he encounters the younger versions of Xavier and Lehnsherr (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) to help him to save the past to prevent the future. This movie had just enough action, special effects, character development, and humor. Not to mention the scene involving Quicksilver in the White House kitchen with Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” playing in the background has to be the funniest and the coolest action set piece of the decade. I cannot wait to see how Quicksilver would be portrayed in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I don’t know if Joss Whedon will make him as funny as Bryan Singer did in X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’ll see.

Dawn-POTA6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Three years ago, Rupert Wyatt directed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. I couldn’t have asked for a better climax – with similarities of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – building up to its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves takes the franchise to a completely different level. Even though it has similarities of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, this throws the sequels out of the water. This movie reminds us why there is motion-capture. I hope Andy Serkis gets a special Academy Award for bringing motion-capture to life. His performance as Caesar is as powerful as in Rise. The scene in which he watches a video on a fully charged camcorder of himself as an infant being taught by Will the scientist is one of the most emotional scenes of the year. I think that’s why I prefer Rise and Dawn over the original Planet of the Apes films. Because they offer more emotion.

GuardiansOfTheGalaxy5. Guardians of the Galaxy – One of the biggest surprises of the summer, indie director James Gunn introduces a group that a lot of people have never heard of. He puts enough wit and charm into these characters to make us connect with them. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy three times in the theater, I had a blast each time I saw it. When Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, in an awesome performance) turns on his Walkman and dances to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” on an abandoned planet, I knew I was in for a treat. Even though it features breathtaking visuals and exhilarating action, the main focus is the memorable characters and the witty dialogue. Not to mention the best soundtrack in recent memory. Cannot wait for the sequel.

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl4. Gone Girl – There are several movies this past year that made me speechless once the credits started rolling. Gone Girl is one of those movies. Based on Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel, Ben Affleck delivers the performance of his career as Nick Dunn, who becomes a suspect of his wife’s disappearance. I always like a good mystery. But there was rarely one where it had me on the edge of my seat from the first image. Kudos to a great marketing campaign, David Fincher and his team make an atmospheric thriller that gives a realistic glimpse of the media. With dark humor, many twists and turns, and a haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl has the feeling of a film noir. The gorgeous Rosamund Pike plays the craziest wife I’ve ever seen in a movie. She is an enigma to the characters as well as the audience through narration and flashbacks. I want her to beat Julianne Moore for the Best Actress Oscar.

07GRAND-articleLarge3. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers. I love almost all of his films. Unlike most filmmakers, he has his own unique style. Moonrise Kingdom is the first film that introduced me into his colorfully surreal world of zaniness. After seeing all of his early films, I wasn’t disappointed with The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson has made the funniest film of his career. I couldn’t picture anyone else playing a better performance as Monsieur Gustave H. other than Ralph Fiennes. He has so much wit and charm as the flirtatious concierge who embarks on a journey to clear his name after being accused of murdering his former lover. His timing is spot-on. With a terrific ensemble featuring F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, and newcomer Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely worth the visit. I’m surprised it got nine Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) this year.

Birdman2. Birdman – Nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture, Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is the greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock or Alfonso Cuarón never made. Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki make the most technically ambitious film of the year, using various film and editing techniques to make it look like it’s one continuous shot. The scene where washed-up actor Riggan Thomson holds a grudge on a New York Times theatre critic who is going to give his play a negative review before opening day proves that Michael Keaton might win the Oscar. This is a funny, satirical, bizarre, philosophical, and moving picture that reminds us why movies are made.

Boyhood-11. Boyhood – There has never been a film from 2014 that moved me as much as Boyhood did. Richard Linklater started production on this 12-year project in 2002 using the same actors and the same crew. It feels like he didn’t just make a film, but rather a lesson on adolescence. Linklater naturally depicts how kids and teenagers behave. Even though there aren’t any subtitles on what year we’re in, the audience sees the main character Mason (Ellar Coltrane, in a wonderfully convincing performance) grow up right before their eyes when his voice deepens, his hair grows longer, or if there is a conversation about the war in Iraq. This is a film that made me relate the fun times and hard times I had as a child and the responsibilities I’m going to have as an adult.

There are times in the film where Richard Linklater references his early films. There are scenes involving Mason having conversations with his father (amazingly played by Ethan Hawke) about a possible Star Wars sequel, getting advice, and talking about their day. They connect to Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. Patricia Arquette needs to earn her Oscar as Mason’s mother who is trying to do the best she can for her kids.

To quote Richard Roeper: “There are so many things that could have gone wrong with this project when you really think about it. What if young [Ellar] Coltrane grew up to be a terrible actor in his teens? What if Lorelei [Linklater] decided five years ago she didn’t want to be in her dad’s movie anymore? Fortunately, for Linklater, and for us, it all came together beautifully.”

Boyhood is the most special movie-going experience I’ve ever had at the movie theater. Not only is it the best movie of 2014, it’s also the best movie of the decade so far and one of my favorites of all-time. This is a movie that should be seen by everyone.

I hope you enjoyed reading my choices for the best films of 2014. Feel free to leave a comment on what your favorite films of 2014 are. I cannot wait to see more great films this year. Take care.