Archive for January, 2016

I take a look at the 2016 Oscar Nominees

Posted in Academy Awards, movies, Oscars with tags , , , on January 27, 2016 by Paxton

Oscars Wild!

Well, the academy released the Oscar nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.  Again, some surprises, some not so surprising.  I usually like to take a look at the most popular categories and give you some of my thoughts on the decisions.  Looking back, I see I’ve done this recap since 2007 (for the 2006 movie year).  If you want to see those previous articles just click the Oscar’s Wild banner above to go to my Oscar’s Wild archive page.

I already posted my favorite movies of 2015 and usually by now I’ve posted my least favorite of 2015.  However I don’t think I’m going to do a least favorite this year because there was really only one, maybe two, movies that I could put on that list and I don’t think I’m strong enough against those movies to even put them on the list.  So, don’t expect a least favorite list this year.

Anyway, back to the Oscar nominees for this year.  You can find the full list of nominees at Oscars.org.  Now, let’s take a look at the “money” categories and judge how the Academy did this year.

BEST PICTURE

Fury Road

The Big Short – I really want to see this. What a great cast. I tried to explain to my wife what this was about and as soon as I got out “…the mortgage crisis…” she said, “I’m out.”

Bridge of Spies – Speilberg and Hanks. 100% the reason to see this. Otherwise, I’d probably say, “No thanks.”  But I guess I’m saying, “Yes…Hanks.”

Brooklyn – There is nothing about this movie’s synopsis that in any way makes me want to watch it.

Mad Max: Fury Road – I never thought the Academy would put this on the list.  WOW.  I think it’s no hyperbole to say that this is probably the best movie ever nominated that will NEVER win the Best Picture. I can’t conceive of a situation where the Academy would vote this movie the winner unless every other movie in this category (and a few other categories as well) immediately forfeit.

The Martian – This is on my must see list. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet, but I will. SOON. I would have seen it before now, but as Jeeg would say, #RealLifeProblems.

The Revenant – This has great actors, but it looks like one of those movies where it is trying to make the viewer uncomfortable for nearly 2 hours.

Room – I have no desire to watch a horrific re-enactment of a horrific real life ordeal. If I want that I can watch the news. It’s not why I see movies.

Spotlight – Another movie about child abuse?

Notable Snubs: Only eight this year? Not 10? Where’s Hateful 8? Or Creed? Or even, Heaven forbid, Star Wars The Force Awakens?

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Steve Jobs

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo – This looks pretty good. I hadn’t heard about it. It’s got a great cast besides Cranston, whom I love; John Goodman, Hellen Mirren, Diane Lane, etc, etc. I’m in. I’ll watch.

Matt Damon, The Martian – It looks like Damon crushed this one. More often than not, I’m in on Damon’s movies unless he’s doing a “message” movie like Green Zone or Promised Land. But even then I think he’s a pretty great actor.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – I’m a fan of Leo. I have no doubt he deserves this. But I don’t have a desire to watch the movie which looks like a punishing way to spend 2 hours.

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs – I love Fassbender and I think this movie looks great. I’m a little surprised that no one has said anything about an Irish-German actor playing such an iconic American personality. People love to argue about that on the Internet. But…nothing. Ditto goes for Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. How is there no one on the Internet getting righteously indignant about this? Remember the sh*t storm that brewed when a the traditionally white comic book character Johnny Storm was played by a black guy? In a movie just last year?!  It was crazy.  And that character was fictional!  Regardless, I think Fassbender AND Hiddleston are going to be great.

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl – I really like Redmayne in Theory of Everything and I’m really excited to see him in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, I don’t really care about this movie. I’m sure he’s great in it, but I just don’t care.

Notable snubs: Michael B Jordan should be here for Creed. At the very least he should be in Supporting Actor, but I really think he deserves to be here.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Carol

Cate Blanchett, Carol – I haven’t seen this yet but I love Cate Blanchett and I’ll see nearly everything she’s in. No, I don’t really want to see this movie, but I probably will.  I felt the same about Blue Jasmine and she’s great in that.

Brie Larson, Room – I really like Brie Larson. I mainly know her from the first 21 Jump Street movie. I bet she’s great in this but I’ll never know. I just don’t think I could stomach watching this movie.

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy – I love JLaw, I really do, but this feels like Silver Linings Playbook Part II.

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years – Wow, this is so cool. Charlotte Rampling was on the last season of Dexter as Dr Vogel. And she was pretty awesome. But she was also a big deal back in the 70s starring in Zardoz, Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories and Orca: The Killer Whale. She was quite the looker too.  I’m so glad she’s here.

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn – Oh man, I love all these actresses but I don’t want to see any of their movies. Saoirse is great. I really like her in things like Hanna, Lovely Bones and Atonement, regardless of whether I liked those movies as a whole. I think she’s a great actress.

Notable Snubs: Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road? Or how about Daisy Ridley in Star Wars The Force Awakens?

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The Best Movies I saw in 2015

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 21, 2016 by Paxton

Movie Board

Time to continue my year end round ups with my favorite movies list.  Today, I’m not only judging movies that I watched that opened last year, but ALL movies I watched for the first time in 2015.

I’ll start off with a list of my favorite movies that were released in 2015 and I’ll finish up with movies that were released in other years but I only saw for the first time last year.  I may even throw in some honorable mentions as I love to do.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite movies I saw in 2015.  In no particular order.


Kingsman: The Secret Service – Wow, what a great movie.  I love Colin Firth and Michael Caine.  I’m ambivalent about Sam Jackson because I’m somewhat tired of him being “Sam Jackson” in every movie.  But the concept of this movie intrigued me so I saw it and I love it.  Firth is amazing and Sam Jackson actually mixes it up a little and becomes a very interesting villain.  I really enjoyed this movie.


Mad Max: Fury Road – So, Nerd Lunch and Cult Film Club did our Mad Max drilldown last year.  I finally watched all the original Mel Gibson Mad Max movies for the first time for that podcast.  I enjoyed them more than I was expecting.  Then, I went to see this in the theater and it BLEW MY DAMN MIND HOW AWESOME A MOVIE COULD BE.  I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite movie this year, but this would definitely be in the running.  Balls out action, insanely detailed characters and world building.  Just amazing.


The Hateful Eight – I like pretty much everything Quentin does. There are some lows for me, but it’s mostly up.  I loved Django Unchained and I was excited to see Quentin return to westerns for his next movie.  This is a much more mean spirited film than Django, but it’s every bit as good.  Sam Jackson, my boy Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bruce Dern.  All of them are awesome in this.  So, so good.  I want to see it again right now.


Creed (Blu-ray + DVD + UV) – I’m a fan of most of the Rocky movies.  My personal favorite is probably Rocky 3, but I generally like all of them.  So I was a little excited to see how this turned out and holy crap it’s f**king amazing.  This is a phenomenal movie.  It sort of blends the first movie with the third movie.  Michael B Jordan is awesome and Sly has never been better.  I was sobbing like a baby at the end.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Yep, here it is. In my favorites of the year. While not a perfect movie I really did enjoy it.  Yes, there are haters. And yes, I do have some story issues, but this felt like a Star Wars movie.  I was excited by the action.  I was laughing at the humor.  I actually liked the dialogue and the characters that said the dialogue.  So much fun and I can’t wait to take my 5 year old son to see this movie.

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Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2015

Posted in Batman, books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , on January 11, 2016 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

And here we are again, my year end wrap up articles.

Queue Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”.

I say it every year, how did we get here already? The year just flies by. Anyway, the particulars: If you’ve read this year end round up before, you know I keep my book logs online in a Google Spreadsheet. I’ve been doing it since around 2009.  Only “new to me” reads in 2015 are eligible, no re-reads.

This past year was an interesting year for my book/comics list.  I really had an off year for books.  It was really hard to get a good list of 5 books that I really enjoyed.  This year as I combed through my list of books I realized I had been in a slump of “didn’t like” and “meh” books that I just didn’t feel comfortable forcing into this year’s “best” list.

Conversely, this was a phenomenal year for comics.  I had SO MANY comics I read that I just LOVED that it became very hard for me to pare it down to only five.  So, I think this year I’m going to cut the book list to maybe three and increase the comic list to 8.  This would be a better representation of the good stuff I’ve read this year.

Looking at the log I see I read around 106 books and comics over the course of the year.  That total includes books/comics I’ve read for the first time as well as any re-reads I did this year which I’ll do from time to time.  Also, I see, after two years of reading 4 books released in the current year, I uptick to 5 books I read this year that were current releases.  Wow.  And none of them are going to make this list.  One of them almost did, but, in the end, I decided no.

Here’s the list!

Books


Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1987) by H. F. Saint – I read and reviewed this book for AWESOME-tober-fest this year.  See my full review there.  But this hands down makes my best of year list and looking at my book log, it’s probably the best book I read all year.


Troll Mountain (2014) by Matthew Reilly – Matthew Reilly is no stranger to my “best of” books list.  His Scarecrow and James West Jr novels have both made it on here.  I read this fantasy novel back in February for the second installment of High Fantasy Month.  It was a serial novel in three parts, each part about 55 pages long.  And it’s junior fantasy, aimed at a younger audience.  But like I said in my review, I really enjoyed it.  The story reminded me of L Frank Baum.  Lots of fun and adventure, full of hope, believing in yourself and believing that good will triumph over evil.  Definitely worth a read.


Mistborn: The Final Empire (Book 1) (2006) – Brandon Sanderson – I really had trouble picking this final spot.  A few things could’ve gone here.  Rick Riordan’s tenth Percy Jackson book, The Force Awakens novelization, Stephen King’s Needful Things or Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle.  And I liked all of these choices but I didn’t love them.  So, I flipped a coin and the first book in Sanderson’s fantasy series gets the nod.  It’s a great piece of fantasy world building with a cleverly different system of magic.  Like Troll Mountain, I reviewed it for the second High Fantasy Month back in February.  I just felt that this book runs a little long.  But I liked it and I plan on reading the second book, even if I’m hearing that the second book is even longer.  And unnecessarily so.

Now, let’s move on to the comics I read this year that I LOVED.  And there are lots of them.

Comic Books/Graphic Novels


Aquaman (The New 52) by Geoff Johns and Jeff Parker – I’m including all six of the currently released collections of this title.  This first entry was probably the most relevatory comic I read all year. I’ve never been an Aquaman fan, even with the Peter David series and the hook hand/long hair iterations. I just didn’t like the character. However, I heard such good things about this take on Aquaman that I decided to read the first trade.  The next thing I know, I’ve read all six of the trade paperback collections encompassing the first 40 issues or so plus annuals.  Geoff Johns writes the first four collections and Jeff Parker takes over for the next two.  And they are AWESOME.  All of a sudden, I’m an Aquaman fan.  I even dove into and read the entire side series, Aquaman and the Others, which is not as good, but still enjoyable to read.  I can’t recommend this title enough.  I think Cullen Bunn has taken over the writing from Jeff Parker as of issue 40 or so.  I look forward to more adventures with the King of Atlantis.


Avengers vs. X-Men (2012) – This is the 12 issue maxi-series Marvel event from 2012.  It launched the Marvel NOW! line of comics.  It’s written by a murder’s row of my favorite comic writers; Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis, Johnathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker and Jason Aaron with lots of awesome art by John Romita Jr and Adam Kubert.  The story is epic, it’s awesome, it’s everything you want in an Avengers vs X-men title.  I loved it.  And the conclusion of this entry leads directly into…

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