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The Best Movies I saw in 2017

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 5, 2018 by Paxton

Movie Report

I did my favorite books, now it’s time for movies.

Normally I’d list out ten movies; 5 movies released in 2017 and 5 movies from any year that I saw for the first time in 2017. However, this time, I’m just going to list out all my favorite movies from last year. I may get to ten, I may not. I literally don’t know.  But I watched all of these movies for the first time in 2017.  In no particular order.

Baby Driver (2017) – This took me by surprise.  I like Edgar Wright, just not as much as everyone else seems to.  I really liked Shaun of the Dead. I liked Hot Fuzz.  I was disappointed by Scott Pilgrim.  But the premise of this movie and the cast got me on board and while I planned to see it in the theater I missed it and watched it when it hit Redbox.  And I’ve since bought the Blu-Ray, watched it two more times and I bought the soundtrack.  I *LOVE* this movie.  I would say it’s my favorite Edgar Wright movie.  The cast, the performances, the music and how it informs what’s happening on screen, the action sequences.  This movie is SO GOOD.  As good as anything else on this list and it would seriously contend if I were to pick a #1 movie.  I almost wish the young star, Anson Elgort, would have gotten the role of “young Han Solo” as I was more impressed by him here than Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar! (and I really liked Alden in that movie).

Logan (2017) – They did it. They made the definitive Wolverine movie. And he had to die in it. I simultaneously hate and love that this is the last Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie.  I love pretty much everything about it.  My only regret was that instead of the “young Wolverine clone” at the end, I would have liked to see Liev Shreiber’s Victor return.  But that’s a nitpick that I don’t actually hold against the movie at all.  This was a great movie and a powerful love letter to the character that Hugh has been playing on and off for the last 17 years.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Finally, we get a good Spider-Man movie in the modern age of super hero movies.  They *nailed* Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Tom Holland.  He’s great.  I love that they skipped the origin and all the Uncle Ben stuff and they kept it funny.  And Michael Keaton was the best Spider-Man villain since Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock.  And I like that he has the potential to return rather than joining the long parade of disposable, one movie villains that Marvel has been doing.  I loved Pete’s friend Ned.  I really like the Stark-ified Spidey suit.  This was a fun, exciting movie and I can’t wait to see Holland return in Infinity War.

Wonder Woman (2017) – I can’t believe that we got a Wonder Woman movie that is this good.  Especially considering the lackluster output of EVERY SINGLE OTHER WB/DC MOVIE.  90% of this movie is GREAT.  I have a few issues with the giant CGI slugfest at the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that we get a fully realized George Perez Ares God of War on screen.  And I love the reveal of whom Ares was, but the movie seemed to lose some of its weight in the computer generated spectacle at the end.  That being said, this was a great super hero movie, Gal Gadot was awesome and bad ass as Diana and I eagerly await a sequel and the return of Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie (which I still haven’t seen).

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The Best Movies I saw in 2016

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 25, 2017 by Paxton

Movie Report


Today, I’m not only judging movies that I watched that opened last year, but ALL movies I watched for the first time in 2016.

I’ll start off with a list of my favorite movies that were released in 2016 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 2016.  In no particular order.

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – This is probably not a surprise.  It was awesome and everything I wanted it to be.  Chris Evans’ Captain America has become my favorite Marvel hero, even over Downey’s Iron Man.  I love all three Cap movies but only love one and a half Iron Man movies.  These just keep getting better.  And the inclusion of all these newer heroes; Ant-Man, Falcon, Winter Soldier, the new Spider-Man.  All, just perfect.  I now want a Falcon-Winter Soldier buddy movie.  Make THAT happen, Marvel.

Deadpool – Exactly what this movie should have been.  I honestly didn’t think Fox could pull it off.  I knew they nailed the lead with Ryan Reynolds, but I honestly didn’t think they’d stick to their guns for the bloody, irreverent tone this movie needed.  I was wrong.  Fun, vulgar and entertaining.

Somm: Into the Bottle – This is a sequel to a documentary that I talked about back in 2014.  Last time they were following several Master Sommelier hopefuls as they prepared to take the Master test.  This time, it’s more of an in-depth look at old world wineries and how they craft wine differently.  It’s fascinating stuff.  You do see the original four guys from the first documentary, but not in an update to how they are doing four years later.  The guys are now a part of the panel of talking wine heads.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange – In a way, this somewhat took me by surprise.  I’m a fan of Doctor Strange.  I read him a little in the late 80s-early 90s and I’ve revisited his Steve Ditko origins.  I love sorcerers, so I always kept my eye on him.  But I was cautiously optimistic that Marvel could pull this off without watering the character down.  And they did it.  Straight up magic and everything.  And lots of humor.  I didn’t expect the humor.  This was a pretty great movie and I look forward to him showing up more often in the Marvel Movie Universe.  One caveat, the wonderful Rachel McAdams is mostly wasted. Hopefully they find more to do with her in future movies.

The Magnificent Seven – You can hear my full thoughts of this movie on the appropriate episode of the Hellbent for Letterbox podcast, but in short, I loved this movie. Lots of good characters, lots of good action. Definitely a fun ride for western fans. And even those maybe not traditionally a western fan.

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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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Worst Movies I saw in 2014

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 21, 2015 by Paxton

Movie Board

On Monday I gave you my favorite movies of 2014. Here are the worst movies I saw in 2014.

I Frankenstein (2014) – I watched this hoping for a “so bad it’s awesome” schlock-fest.  What I got is a non-sensical mish-mash genre picture that isn’t sure if it wants to be taken seriously or be completely tongue-in-cheek.  And that inability to commit ruins the final product.  And I love Aaron Eckhart, but he’s not a very good Frankenstein’s Monster.

Pain & Gain (2013) – I watched this based on the word of mouth and the cast.  I thought it was going to be funnier.  I didn’t realize it was going to be as dark as it turned out to be.  It just lost me, I guess.  Ed Harris, as usual, is GREAT, but the rest of the cast, just lost me.  I came out the end not really liking the movie or any of the characters in the movie.

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) – I watched this against my better judgement.  I felt the last Die Hard movie was a good movie on its own, but was a sh*tty Die Hard movie.  And that’s where this falls.  Except, this is even a less interesting story than the last one.  I think Willis has forgotten how to be John McClane.  These last two movies are really just Willis being Willis.  He’s too stoic.  Loosen up, dude.  McClane is an everyman policeman.  Not super bionic cop.  This character discrepancy is especially evident if you watch the first two Die Hard movies in a row and then watch this movie the next night.  Which I did.

Non-Stop (2014) – This is more of a mild “not recommend” as opposed to the other movies in this list.  I was more disappointed here.  I thought it would be so much better plus it had a pretty good cast with Neeson, Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery who plays Mary on Downton Abbey.  This movie sort of reminded me of Neeson in Unknown, another B-level thriller that was more miss than hit.  Neeson has been racking up roles since he took off in Taken and he’s mostly awesome, but the law of averages is a vicious bitch and this will tend to happen.  Want a different, better Neeson movie from last year starring an actor from Downton Abbey?  Check out A Walk Among the Tombstones.

The Best Movies I saw in 2014

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 19, 2015 by Paxton

Movie Board

Here I am again to list out my favorite movies of the last year.  This time it’s for 2014. *Insert jokes/comments about how quickly time has passed.*

Today, I’m not only judging movies that I watched that opened last year, but ALL movies I watched for the first time in 2014.

I think I’m going to split this list into two categories. I’ll start off with a list of my favorite movies that were released in 2014 and I’ll finish up with movies that were released in other years but I only saw for the first time last year.

It’s amazing how good 2014 was for movies.  I had a hard time picking, so I think I’m going to extend my usual five picks to eight.  Here they are:

John Wick – Wow. Just…WOW. This movie is balls out intense and action packed. Keanu crushes it. I can’t recommend this movie enough.  Wall to wall action and gunfights. Brutal.  GREAT.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I loved the first Cap movie, but this one blew that one out of the water. In this movie, you see why Cap is a BAD ASS. Great, great movie with lots of amazing action and a great cast.  I also love that it turns out to be a conspiracy plot that changes up the makeup of the Marvel Movie-verse a bit and not just Cap defeating some super baddie.  We also get a pretty great scene of Nick Fury being bad ass Nick Fury.  Something we don’t get to see enough of.  And now I want to see a Captain America and Falcon movie.  Right now.

Draft Day – I love the sh*t out of this movie. And it’s a testament to how good it is that it’s the only movie in this list that I’ve seen THREE times. And I love it every time I watch it. Kevin Costner is awesome and I’ll watch him in most anything.  Plus, there’s some gratuitous Jacksonville love at the end.

The Equalizer – OMFG this movie is balls out awesome. Denzel is a MAN in this. I really hope this turns into a series of movies where we see Denzel helping out people in need. So. Fu**king. Good.  Intense. Smart. Great action scenes.  In many ways this is as brutal as John Wick, but it also has a lot more to think about.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – I’m a big fan of the original X-Men movies (as you heard on the Nerd Lunch Podcast) plus I’m a huge fan of X-Men: First Class. Combine those franchises and I was ALL IN. And it turned out pretty great. I was very happy with this movie and watching Jackman, Fassbender, McAvoy and Lawrence tear it up was just awesome.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Against all odds this movie turned out pretty great. The eclectic cast and sly humor completely won me over. Not to mention the awesome sci-fi set pieces and I am 100% in love.  And I’m glad it caught on with everyone else because now we’ll get more of their adventures sooner rather than later.

Maleficent – Here we are again with Disney.  I love these reimagining/retelling from a different point of view type stories.  I thought this movie was going to be good but it was SO GOOD.  Angelina is great as Maleficent and you really get a sense of her character in the movie.  It’s a great companion piece to Sleeping Beauty.  And the movie looks just unbelievable.  Such great visuals.

Into the Woods – Jeez, Disney again.  Obviously I’d seen the trailer for this but knew nothing else about it going in. Not even that it was originally a Broadway show.  And it blew me away.  I’m a big fan of Broadway shows anyway, so having this be an actual interpretation of a Broadway show didn’t bother me at all.  And I hadn’t seen the original show so I didn’t really know what I was missing.  I’d love to see the show now.  This movie is awesome and fun with great songs and a fun way to intertwine several different fairy tales into one long form story.  And Meryl Streep kills the witch.  She is so good.  As is Emily Blunt as the Baker’s wife and Chris Pine as one of the princes even has a few great moments.  So good, especially if you’re a fan of musicals to begin with.

Now those are the best movies I saw that were released last year. Now, let’s look at the best of all the other movies I watched for the first time in 2014 that weren’t released that year.

Frozen (2013) – As you can probably guess, since I’ve mentioned it once or twice, I’m a big Disney musical fan. Plus I have kids. Both my son and daughter LOVE this movie and all of the songs. I’ve probably watched this movie upwards of 50 times but I still like it. And all the songs (except the troll song).  Both the movie’s story and the songs are written so well and all of the voice cast is amazing.  Is it overexposed?  Yes, but deservedly so.  It’s still a great movie.

Blackfish (2013) – I had read about this documentary online so I gave it a shot on Netflix streaming. WOW. Horrific. Sad. Scary. It’s a tough one to watch but it’s totally worth it.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Wow, 2013 must have been a great year for movies as well.  Look how many showed up in my list this year that I didn’t even watch.  Like I said, I love Disney, the movies and the whole atmosphere of the man and the company.  And Mary Poppins is one of my favorite Disney movies.  So combine all of that and give us the “behind the scenes” story of how that movie was created?  YES.  Hanks and Thompson knock it out of the park.  This is such a great movie.

Somm (2012) – This was another documentary I loved this year. Recommended to me by my good friend Stephen Dupuy. My wife and I love all things wine.  So this was right up our alley.  It follows several people who are studying and preparing to take the Master Sommelier test.  A test that is so all encompassing and so difficult that in the last 40 years of its history less than 200 people have passed.  A look into the mind of why someone would want to do that.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – The sequel came out in 2014 and I saw it in the theater.  But I hadn’t watched the first one at the time so I watched it the day before I went to see the sequel.  I had very little expectations.  I don’t love Planet of the Apes and have no particular nostalgia for the franchise so I wasn’t really looking forward to watching it.  But I was wrong.  The movie is pretty great.  It’s amazing the performance you get out of Ceasar.  Kudos to Andy Serkis for that.  This is truly a great movie.  The sequel is good too.  Not as good as the first one, but it’s definitely a worthy sequel to this movie (It just missed making the list above).  I look forward to more Caesar movies.