Top 10 of 2010


It’s that time of year again, the time when critics both well-known and unknown create their lists of movies that were the very best of the year just ended. People seem to love these sorts of things – my top 10 for 2009 remains one of my most popular pages in terms of visits on my site. I expect that this page will probably do even better.

As I said last year, these lists are entirely arbitrary and shouldn’t be taken as gospel. For one thing, people’s tastes are different. A movie that may affect me deeply might seem manipulative to you. A movie that floats your boat may seem a waste of time to me. We all have our buttons.

The truth is, assigning a “best of” tag to anything is a highly fluid process. I’ve given these movies a position on the list but the truth is ask me what my top ten is a few weeks from now and it likely won’t be the same as it is here. It might also include one or two movies that I might have missed during the course of the year, or others that I have seen again recently and re-adjusted my opinion of. Hey, it happens – as with women, it is a critic’s prerogative to change their minds.

What gets a movie on this list? The basic qualifier is whether I liked or not. After that, I’m looking at movies that affected me emotionally, or that I thought was innovative either in its storytelling techniques, its look or its approach. While special effects continue to improve and push the boundaries, nothing this year rivaled the complete game changer that was Avatar last year, so you won’t see a lot of special effects-heavy movies on this year’s list, although Inception and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World both came very close indeed.

Some critics limit their list to five movies; others go larger, with 20, 25, sometimes even 50 movies on their list. I’m limiting it to ten; it’s an arbitrary number, and seems to be something of a standard. Five isn’t enough and twenty is too many. Ten seems suitable for a list of movies that I think is worth honoring above and beyond all the rest.

Most of these movies are either in general release at the moment or are available on home video, on demand or on cable. You may not agree with all my choices. You may wonder why I didn’t choose, say, Toy Story 3 or The Social Network (which might be the most controversial omission) or why I did choose the ones I did. As I said, ask me again later and my mind may have changed.

This is meant to invite discussion or at least some thought. You may not agree on all of these films being the ten very best – you may not agree on the order. However, I think that we can all agree that these are all quality movies that have something to offer nearly everyone. If you’re looking to see a good movie, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t walk out of any of these feeling disappointed.

HONORABLE MENTION

There are a number of movies that didn’t quite make the cut of the top ten. I thought I’d add them here so you can get an idea of which ones came close, were considered and ultimately not chosen. Again, I will stress that all of these are quality films worth seeking out if you’re looking for entertainment, enlightenment or insight. In no particular order;

The Social Network, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Inception, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Waking Sleeping Beauty, Get Low, Love and Other Drugs, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Shutter Island, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Secret of Kells, Leaves of Grass, Warlords, A Prophet, Cyrus, The Kids are All Right, The American, Let Me In, MegaMind, I Remember, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.

Also a special shout-out must be made for Montana Amazon, an amazing little indie film that certainly would have made a good case for the top ten but is not scheduled for theatrical release until 2011. If it comes to your town, by all means seek it out. If you’re interested in reading the original reviews, just click on the title.

10.  MID-AUGUST LUNCH (PRANZO DI FERRAGOSTO)

(Zeitgeist) Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Cali, Grazia Csarini Storza, Alfonso Santagata, Luigi Marchetti, Marcello Ottolenghi, Petre Rosu. Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio

Released March 17, 2010 I first saw this at the Florida Film Festival and was overwhelmed by its charm and gentle nature. Here was a movie whose only aspiration was to make those watching it feel better, with perhaps a comment or two on aging in general. Genial Gianni takes on several older women along with his mother for a mid-August holiday in the oppressive heat of Rome. Gianni, chronically unemployed, is swept through life rather than sweeping through it, wanting no more than a good glass of white wine and the ability to cook a good meal.

WHY IT IS HERE: Gianni Di Gregorio wrote, directed and starred in this highly personal project which was based on his recollections of caring for his own elderly mother in the last years of her life. He also filmed it in his own apartment and utilized personal friends in the cast. The end result is a film that feels more like you’ve been invited to lunch by Italian friends, and are sitting around the table talking about this and that with them. Who doesn’t need more of that in their lives?

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Aunt Maria decides to run away and have a glass of wine or three or more. Drunk off her ass, she makes a pass at Gianni when he retrieves her but not before displaying a vulnerable side that comes out of left field.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $675,299 domestic (as of 1/6/11), $9.3 million total.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Currently available on home video.

9. 127 HOURS

(Fox Searchlight) James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clement Posey, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan, Treat Williams, Sean Bott, John Lawrence, Rebecca Olson, Pieter Jan Brugge, Jeffrey Wood. Directed by Danny Boyle

Released November 5, 2010 Danny Boyle won an Oscar with his previous movie Slumdog Millionaire and is in serious contention once again with this movie. He could have gone with a big budget film as his follow-up, done any one of dozens of projects but this was what he chose to follow-up his Oscar party with, the story of a cocky type-A personality who gets into a pickle and has to resort to extreme measures to get himself out. These types of true-life stories may be inspirational on paper but they don’t often translate to Hollywood box office gold, so choosing this project was a brave move in and of itself.

WHY IT IS HERE: Most of the movie takes place in a narrow canyon with Aron’s arm pinned to the wall with a boulder. It’s almost all Franco for the bulk of the movie and Franco delivers with a memorable performance that has to be a major contender for the Best Actor Oscar this year. Nominations for director and screenplay are probably not out of the realm of possibility either. The film takes essentially one person in a confined space for about an hour of screen time and makes it riveting, making this as good a piece of filmmaking as you are ever likely to see.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The scene in which Aron imagines himself as a guest on a talk show, in which the host asks him some pointed questions is humorous and poignant simultaneously.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $10.6 million domestic (as of 1/5/11), $10.6M total.

BUDGET: $18 million.

STATUS: Theatrical run has been completed for the most part; you may be able to find it in second run theaters. Home video release is tentatively scheduled for March 2011.

8. TRUE GRIT

(Paramount) Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Dakin Mathews, Jarlath Conroy, Elizabeth Marvel, Roy Lee Jones, Ed Corbin, Leon Russom. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Released December 22, 2010 I was none too pleased to find out that one of my all-time favorite westerns was being remade. I’m a big believer that if something ain’t broke, you don’t need to fix it. Most Hollywood attempts to remake classics had ended up in disaster – ask Gus Van Sant about his fling with Psycho sometime. On top of that all, Westerns haven’t been in vogue since, well 1969 when True Grit was first released. I had plenty of misgivings all right – and then I heard it was the Coen Brothers that would be directing it. Sigh. Everything is going to be all right.

WHY IT IS HERE: While this is still the basic plot and the same characters, the whole feel is different. The movie is said to be more in line with the Charles Portis novel the original was based on, and certainly feels more authentic to the time period of the original. The language is very much in line with the way people spoke during that time in history. That said, it isn’t The Duke and it isn’t the original and it will never really replace them, but given that Bridges turns in a performance that is as good as any actor turned in this year, it stands on its own.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Mattie in the pit. ‘Nuff said.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $95.4 million domestic (as of 1/6/11), $95.4 total.

BUDGET: $38 million.

STATUS: The movie is still out in general release in the United States and Canada; overseas release is planned for the early part of 2011. Home video release is tentatively scheduled for May of this year.

7. ALICE IN WONDERLAND

(Disney) Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Anne Hathaway, Matt Lucas, Alan Rickman (voice), Timothy Spall (voice), Stephen Fry (voice), Christopher Lee (voice), Michael Gough (voice), Michael Sheen (voice). Directed by Tim Burton

Released March 5, 2010 From the beginning I thought this was a perfect match. Tim Burton and Lewis Carroll are much like peanut butter and chocolate; two great tastes that taste great together. Burton is one of the few modern directors that has the vision that is even in the same ballpark as Carroll’s.  

WHY IT IS HERE: This is one of the most visually impressive movies of the year. The vision of Underland is whimsical to be sure, sort of like an English garden as seen through a kaleidoscope while smoking a hookah. However, the thing to remember about this Alice is that this isn’t Lewis Carroll’s Alice. This is a different story based on Lewis Carroll’s characters. I guess they decided to keep the name for marketing value.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The Mad Hatter’s victory dance. You’ll know it when you see it.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $334.2 million domestic (as of 1/8/11), $1.0 billion total.

BUDGET: $200 million.

STATUS: Currently available on home video.

6. THE WHITE RIBBON (DAS WIESSE BAND)

(Sony Classics) Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Burghart Klaussner, Ursina Lardi, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Leonard Proxauf, Susanne Lothar, Rainier Bock, Branko Samarovsky. Directed by Michael Haneke

Released December 30, 2009 Although this was released in 2009 in New York and Los Angeles, most of the rest of the country didn’t get to see this until January of 2010. An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, this movie looked at the nature of evil and how it can appear in the most innocuous of places. Filmed in black and white, the movie never really attracted much of an audience which is a shame. It deserved better.

WHY IT IS HERE: The realization of a pre-World War I Germany is one of the best I’ve seen from a modern movie. It captures the nuances of a different era, from the politeness of the children to the monstrous discipline imposed on them. The last vestiges of feudal society are shown in this very chilling and very thought-provoking film.  

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The scene when the Baroness discovers the ruined cabbage patch is priceless.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $2.2 million domestic (as of 1/11/11), $19.2 million total.

BUDGET: $18 million

STATUS: Available on DVD/Blu-Ray at most online and local home video outlets.

5. WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN”

(Paramount Vantage) Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada, Anthony Black, Daisy Esparza, Bianca Hill, Bill Strickland, Randi Weingarten, Bill Gates, George Reeves, Davis Guggenheim (voice). Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Released September 24, 2010 Guggenheim came into prominence after directing the acclaimed documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Although some decried it, it did bring global warming into national consciousness and made Al Gore hip (briefly). Now, Guggenheim turns his attention on the American public school system, noting that almost everyone agrees it is badly in need of fixing.

WHY IT IS HERE: The movie shows the importance of education and suggests some means of fixing the public school system. While I don’t agree with all of the film’s conclusions (I think that the problem is much more complicated than blaming it on the teacher unions’ refusal to get rid of tenure), it certainly opens up the opportunity for dialogue and hopefully, focuses the attention of more Americans on the problems facing our students who at this point are going to be competing in a global economy insufficiently prepared for it.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The interweaving lottery results as the students being followed throughout the movie await their fate on which their future hangs in the balance.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $6.4 million domestic (as of 1/24/11), $6.4 million worldwide.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Scheduled for home DVD/Blu-Ray release on February 15, 2011.

4. THE FIGHTER

(Paramount) Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Mickey O’Keefe, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Jill Quigg, Dendrie Taylor, Kate O’Brien. Directed by David O. Russell

Released December 17, 2010 Six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Adams and Leo) show the members of the Academy were high on this movie and critics gave it high praise as well. The story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward resonated with everyone who’s ever had to struggle to get out of a family member’s shadow.

WHY IT IS HERE: Great performances (Wahlberg didn’t get a Best Actor nomination but many felt he should have) and a terrific story made this one of the year’s highlights. Casting is definitely the key, as the chemistry between the various characters is authentic and compelling. Is it as good as classic boxing films like Raging Bull? No, but it’s damn close!

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The catfight between Amy Adams and the sisters. Classic!

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $72.7 million domestic (as of 1/23/11), $73.4 total.

BUDGET: $25 million.

STATUS: Currently in wide release.

3. WINTER’S BONE

(Roadside Attractions) Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, Lauren Sweetser, Shelley Waggener, Kevin Breznahan, Dale Dickey, Isaiah Stone, Tate Taylor, Sheryl Lee, Ronnie Hall, Ashlee Thompson. Directed by Debra Granik

Released June 18, 2010 Every year at the Florida Film Festival, there is always one movie that just seems to capture my attention and imagination, and one that just is so good that it cannot be ignored. This year, even Oscar didn’t ignore it – the movie wound up receiving a nomination for Best Picture, as well as Lawrence for Best Actress and Hawkes for Best Supporting Actor. This is as high-quality an indie film as you are ever likely to see.

WHY IT IS HERE: In some ways, this is a grueling movie to watch. Ree Dolly, as played by Jennifer Lawrence, searches for her wayward drug dealing dad who has put her home at risk. With her mother suffering from mental illness, Ree is it when it comes to her younger siblings and it has cost Ree plenty. She yearns for a normal teenage life, one she knows she will never have. It’s heartbreaking, it’s compelling, it’s a look at the dark side of the mountain people to whom loyalty is a given but truth isn’t necessarily so.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: A scene where Ree crashes a party where the people there are singing; it is both awkward and eloquent at once.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $6.3 million domestic (as of 1/23/11), $7.8 million total.

BUDGET: $2 million.

STATUS: Currently available on home video.

2.  FLIPPED

(Warner Brothers) Madeline Carroll, Callum McAuliffe, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn, Rebecca de Mornay, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Weisman, Ashley Taylor, Israel Broussard, Cody Horn, Ruth Crawford. Directed by Rob Reiner

Released August 6, 2010 First love is very special, very frightening and unforgettable. We remember it our entire lives and yet no movie has captured it so beautifully and as touchingly as this one. Director Rob Reiner makes his best movie in years, aided by a wonderful supporting cast (particularly Mahoney) and a pair of juvenile actors who are as good as anybody out there.

WHY IT IS HERE: This is a movie that flew below everybody’s radar. Critics missed it and audiences certainly did, as the studio gave it a microscopic release. It missed out on major award and fell between every crack that Hollywood has. That makes this a hidden gem just waiting for audiences to discover it. No movie left me feeling as good when I left the theater this year. I highly recommend you seek this one out – you’ll thank me for it later.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The conversation between Juli and Chet…or the one between Bryce and Chet…or the uncomfortable dinner scene with the Loskis and the Bakers…Oh hell, any scene that has Mahoney in it.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $1.3 million domestic (as of 8/6/10), $1.8 million total.

BUDGET: $14 million.

STATUS: Currently available on home video.

1. THE KING’S SPEECH

(Weinstein) Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Ehle, Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom, Timothy Spall, Eve West, Roger Parrott, Anthony Edwards, Patrick Ryecart. Directed by Tom Hooper

Released November 26, 2010 The Royal Family is much in the news and on the silver screen lately, with the Royal Wedding set for this year as well as films such as The Queen showing the human side of the family which has often been de-humanized by their status, not entirely of their own doing. Here, we see the courage of habitual stutterer George VI (father to current monarch Elizabeth II) who learns to overcome his affliction with the help of unorthodox Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue. Rush, who plays Logue, was a producer on the film which received more Oscar nominations (12) than any other this year. Firth has a Golden Globe for best dramatic actor already on his mantle; he’s an odds-on favorite to add an Oscar to his collection.

WHY IT IS HERE: This is a movie that displays unusual courage and charm, given the subject matter. Some movies just grab your attention from the moment the projector lights up the screen and keep it until the theater employees come in to clean up the theater. This is one of those films. Every performance here is nothing short of amazing, led by Firth and Rush, as well as Carter – all of whom will be competing for acting Oscars in February. Director Tom Hooper brings you into the Royal Family’s boudoir and you feel like a fly on the wall in the palace halls, and that works for me. This is a quality production, from the set design to the costumes to the score and especially to the acting performances. I honestly thought the top three movies this year were very close in terms of quality – I could have been just as happy with either #2 or #3 in this spot – but at the end of the day, if there was one movie from 2010 that you should see for sure, this is it.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Some have mentioned the climactic scene where the King gives his radio address, but I much prefer the scene when George and Elizabeth are revealed to Myrtle Logue as her husband’s clients; it’s charming and shows as much heart as any scene in the movie.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $59.0 million domestic (as of 1/25/11), $108.8 total.

BUDGET: $15 million.

STATUS: Currently in wide release.

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Leaves of Grass


Leaves of Grass

Two Edward Nortons for the price of one!

(Millennium) Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson, Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfus, Melanie Lynskey, Lucy deVito, Josh Pais, Steve Earle, Ken Cheeseman, Maggie Siff, Amelia Campbell, Leo Fabian, Randal Reeder, Lee Wikoff, Ty Burrell. Directed by Tim Blake Nelson

Family dynamics can be unpredictable. Two siblings in the same family can take wildly divergent life paths, even if they’re identical twins.

Bill Kincaid (Norton) is one of the most brilliant minds in the country. He is a professor of classical philosophy at Brown University, handsome, erudite and brilliant. He is a sought-after commodity, both by administrators at Harvard (Wikoff) who are so eager to have him on staff that they’re creating a position specifically for him, and co-eds (deVito) who write him erotic love sonnets in Latin and tear their clothes off in his office, much to the chagrin of his administrative assistance Maggie (Campbell).

Brady Kincaid (Norton, in a dual role) is one of the cleverest pot growers in Oklahoma. He and his partner Bolger (Nelson) have built, as Bolger puts it, the Taj Mahal of grow houses, a state of the art hydroponics facility in which Brady has crossbred many strains of wacky weed to make the most turbocharged product in all of Southeastern Oklahoma. His girlfriend Colleen (Lynskey) is pregnant and his mom (Sarandon) has checked into a rest home despite being 15 years younger than everyone else there because she likes being able to do whatever the hell she wants, as she describes it.

However, things aren’t all rosy in Brady’s life. The big drug distributor in Oklahoma, Pug Rothbaum (Dreyfus) from whom Brady borrowed most of the cash to set up his operation, is demanding either his money back or for Brady to expand his operation into harder drugs, something Brady is philisophically opposed to. Rothbaum is demanding an answer and Brady and Bolger are pretty sure that he won’t like the one they have for him.

Shortly thereafter, Bill gets a call that his twin brother has been murdered. Even though he’s been estranged from his family for more than a decade, he decides to fly back to Tulsa. On the plane he is seated next to a pushy orthodontist named Ken Feinman (Pais) who is relocating his practice from New York to Tulsa where insurance rates and general costs are much lower. Drowning in debt and desperate to establish a new practice, he hands the disinterested Bill his business card.

Bill is picked up at the airport by Bolger who makes a stop at a mini-market in Broken Bow to pick up some supplies. While there, Bill is mistaken for Brady by a couple of redneck business rivals who beat the living crap out of him before Bolger intercedes, but not before he is knocked out cold by a kick to his head.

When he wakes up, who should be the first face he sees but Brady. It turns out that his brother faked his death in order to get Bill to Oklahoma, which Bill admits he likely wouldn’t have done if asked like a normal person. Brady needs Bill’s help – he needs Bill to impersonate him and be seen by the local sheriff (who hangs out with the receptionist at the nursing home with whom he is smitten) while Brady attends a meeting with Rothbaum in Tulsa. Bill is at first adamant against doing anything to help his brother, but a few hits from the wonderpot persuade him to stay the weekend, and the introduction of Janet (Russell) the comely English teacher with a penchant for quoting Walt Whitman and with whom Bill takes a shine to immediately seals the deal. Unfortunately, when Brady is involved with something, the unforeseen usually occurs.

Tim Blake Nelson, best-known as an actor in films like O Brother, Where Art Thou has directed a handful of films since the late 90s, but this is by far the best work he’s done to date. He captures the rural atmosphere of Southeast Oklahoma perfectly, from the local twang to the fishing hole chic. The movie motors along at a brisk pace that keeps you involved in every little twist and turn that occurs.

Norton’s twin performances as Blake and Bill are also worth seeking this out for by themselves. The two characters couldn’t be more different but there are some core similarities that a pair of identical twins would have to have, from idiosyncratic mannerisms to the strong bond that exists between them, whether Bill wants to admit it’s there or not.

He has a great supporting cast. Russell is one of the most charming of actresses out there, and ever since her work in “Felicity” and particularly the indie comedy Waitress is rapidly becoming one of the most reliable actresses in the business. The rest of the supporting cast, from Nelson as the ultra-loyal Bolger to Dreyfus as the rabid dog of a crime boss, is very strong. Pais is particularly noteworthy as the neurotic orthodontist and Siff as a rabbi has a very moving speech near the end of the movie.

I also wanted to mention Sarandon’s role as the ex-hippie mom. She’s so perfect for this role that you end up wishing she was in the movie more (she only appears in four scenes); if there’s any footage of her on the cutting room floor, I surely hope it ends up on the DVD. I think its safe to say that all the characters in the movie are nicely fleshed out, the mark of a well-written script.

The thing I love most about the movie is that about two thirds of the way though it takes a wild left turn that comes completely by surprise, so much so that at the Florida Film Festival screening at which I caught the film the audience let out an audible and collective gasp. The movie switches gears from that point and goes into overdrive. It’s a bravura bit of screenwriting as well as a tribute to Nelson’s talents as a director.

A word of warning; this is most definitely a movie about the drug culture, and those who are uncomfortable with depictions of pot smoking and other accoutrements of growing weed will probably have problems with Leaves of Grass. However, it must be said that the sweet smoke is no more pervasive than it is in the Showtime series “Weeds” so if you’re not bothered by that show you’ll be okay here.

This is the kind of movie that grows on you, no pun intended. I suspect that if you ask me again in a week’s time I will give this a higher rating than I have to this point. At the end of the day this is a very well-crafted movie that’s worth seeking out at your local art house or on DVD if it doesn’t find its way near you.

REASONS TO GO: The movie takes an unexpected 90 degree turn about two thirds of the way through the movie that’s unexpected. Norton fills both of the roles admirably. Russell is charming as always.

REASONS TO STAY: The stoner tone might be a bit overly much for those who are uncomfortable with the culture.

FAMILY VALUES: Those who are uncomfortable with depictions of drug use (particularly the smoking of weed) will be put off by this. There is also some scenes of violence and quite a lot of usage of foul language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Norton was so eager to do this role that he accepted a pay cut of half his normal fee.

NOTABLE DVD FEATURES: None listed.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $68,000 on a $9M production budget; the movie was a flop.

FINAL RATING: 7.5/10

TOMORROW: The Social Network

Note: I first saw this movie at the Florida Film Festival and published a mini-review at the time as the film hadn’t been released into theaters yet. Unfortunately, the planned release was scrapped and eventually the movie got almost no release whatsoever, which is a crying shame. Do rent this if you can find it.

Four-Warned: April 2010


Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief explanation

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE

1. KICK-ASS (1.0)
2. CLASH OF THE TITANS (1.2)
3. THE LOSERS (1.2)
4. THE WARLORDS (1.6)
Tie. OCEANS (1.6)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see.

APRIL 2, 2010

BREAKING UPWARDS (IFC) Genre: Indie Drama. A young New York couple decides to break up but chooses to follow an unusual strategy. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles April 9). RATING: 3.2 Scored a little high on the pretentious meter.
CLASH OF THE TITANS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Fantasy. Men are pitted against Gods in Ancient Greece in a war that threatens to destroy them both. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard and 3D). RATING: 1.2 Spectacular remake of 80s film looks good but could take itself too seriously.
DON MCKAY (Image Entertainment) Genre: Indie Thriller. A man returns to his hometown two decades after leaving it at the behest of his ex-girlfriend only to find himself ensnared by a dark scheme. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Thomas Haden Church stars? I’m sooo there!
THE GREATEST (Paladin) Genre: Indie Drama. A grieving couple takes in the pregnant girlfriend of their dead son and finds their lives transformed in the process. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 A strong cast highlight what looks to be a powerful drama.
LEAVES OF GRASS (First Look) Genre: Comedy/Thriller. A straight-arrow college professor returns home to bury his drug-dealing twin brother only to discover he’s not quite dead yet. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Double the Edward Norton, double the fun.
THE THORN IN THE HEART (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Genre: Documentary. Acclaimed director Michel Gondry films his most personal movie yet – the story of his Aunt Suzette. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.3 I’m curious to see how Gondry does with more traditional storytelling methods.
TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Dramedy. The sequel to Perry’s look at modern marriage as eight college friends struggle with the challenges of 21st century relationships. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 The first movie was terribly uneven; didn’t leave it wanting to see a sequel.
THE WARLORDS (Magnet) Genre: Foreign Epic Drama. Three friends try to survive a time of political upheaval and political intrigue in 19th Century China. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Jet Li stars in another visual treat from China.

APRIL 9, 2010

AFTER.LIFE (Anchor Bay) Genre: Psychological Horror. A young woman wakes up to find out that she is dead and is being prepared for her funeral by a man who may not be what he appears to be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci star in this movie that looks to be scary as all hell.
THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND (Project 8) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A group of friends on vacation play an archaic board game and release evil in the process. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Been there, done that.
DATE NIGHT (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. A couple out on a rare night out find themselves caught in a case of mistaken identity that will make their evening a lot crazier than they bargained for. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 Steve Carrell plus Tina Fey equals box office gold.
EVERYONE ELSE (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Foreign Romance. A couple on holiday find the differences between them exposed when they hook up with a couple that is clearly happier than they are. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.9 Subject matter doesn’t exactly grab my interest.
LA MISSION (Screen Media) Genre: Indie Drama. A tough and respected Latino bus driver in San Francisco must come to terms with his gay son. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Gay issues haven’t been explored too thoroughly in Latino cinema.
LETTERS TO GOD (Vivendi) Genre: Spiritual Family Drama. A young cancer patient’s letters to the Almighty have a powerful effect on a postal worker. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 Explorations of faith done family-style have a tendency to be preachy in my experience.
THE SQUARE (Apparition) Genre: Foreign Thriller. A married man has an affair with a married woman leading to arson, blackmail and mayhem. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 The trailer looked very intriguing.
WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE: A FILM ABOUT THE DOORS (Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. Ummmm…it’s a film about the Doors. What are you, stupid? Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.6 After No One Here Gets Out Alive, do we really need another documentary about The Doors?
WHO DO YOU LOVE? (International Film Circuit) Genre: Biopic. The story of Chess Records impresario Leonard Chess. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles April 16). RATING: 3.8 Didn’t somebody already make Cadillac Records?

APRIL 16, 2010

A SHINE OF RAINBOWS (Seville) Genre: Family Drama. An extraordinary and magical woman helps an orphan find self-acceptance in a small village in Ireland. Release Strategy: Canada.  RATING: 3.8 Ah those zany Irish!
THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION (Screen Media) Genre: Drama. An inter-familial battle ensues over the biographical rights of a recently deceased South American author. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 James Ivory of Merchant-Ivory reunited with Anthony Hopkins…suh-weet!
DEATH AT A FUNERAL (Screen Gems) Genre: Urban Comedy. Hi-jinks ensue at the funeral of an African-American family patriarch. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 An urban remake of an English comedy? Hmmm…
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (Producers Distribution Agency) Genre: Documentary. The story of the mysterious and mercurial graffiti artist Banksy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 I have ABSOLUTELY no desire to see a film about a defacer of public buildings.
HANDSOME HARRY (Paladin) Genre: Mystery. A Vietnam vet tries to make amends for a crime committed by a group of his buddies during the war. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Could be intriguing.
THE JONESES
(Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dark Comedy. A marketing company assembles a group of people together to pose as a family in order to incite people to buy products they don’t need. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 I’d like to keep up with THESE Joneses.
KICK-ASS (Lionsgate) Genre: Superhero Action. A high school student decides to adopt the persona of a superhero – even though he has no super powers. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 Has had a huge buzz ever since ComiCon last year.
MESRINE: A FILM IN TWO PARTS (Music Box) Genre: Foreign Crime Drama Biopic. The true story of Jacques Mesrine, one of the most notorious criminals in France. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 After Un Prophet French gangster movies are in vogue.
NO-ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS (IFC) Genre: Drama. Underground indie rock bands in Teheran risk arrest in order to follow their muse. Release Strategy: New York (Opening in Los Angeles April 23). RATING: 2.4 Could make Iranian indie rock hip.
THE PERFECT GAME (Slowhand Releasing) Genre: Sports Drama. A group of poor boys from Monterrey, Mexico become the first non-American team to win the Little League World Series. Release Strategy: Limited RATING: 3.1 Have they run out of inspirational sports stories yet?
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Sony Classics) Genre: Foreign Thriller. A court reporter decides to write a novel about a sensational crime he was assigned to, dredging up memories some of which should have best remained forgotten. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year.

APRIL 21, 2010

KENNY CHESNEY: SUMMER IN 3D (Sony Hot Ticket) Genre: Concert Film. Footage taken from Chesney’s Sun City Carnival tour last year. Release Strategy: Limited, Special Engagement. RATING: 3.6 I must admit that I’m not much of a country music fan.

APRIL 22, 2010

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN (Hopscotch/Galvanized) Genre: Indie Dramedy. A young traumatized teen hangs out with a local troublemaker in order to anger his family with unforeseen consequences. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Sounds like I’ve seen this one before.
OCEANS (DisneyNature) Genre: Nature Documentary. A glimpse below the surface of the world’s oceans, a place we know less about than the surface of the moon. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 From the makers of Planet Earth.

APRIL 23, 2010

THE BACK-UP PLAN (CBS) Genre: Comedy. A young Manhattanite who has a biological clock whose alarm is about to go off resorts to Plan B – only to fall in love. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.7 Can you say “Baby Mama”?
BEST WORST MOVIE (Area 23A) Genre: Documentary. The story of the making of the film Troll 2, arguably one of the worst movies ever made. Release Strategy: Austin TX (Opening in New York on May 14 and in Los Angeles on May 21). RATING: 2.5 What is more lovable than an utter cinematic bomb?
BOOGIE WOOGIE (IFC) Genre: Comedy. An ensemble comedy about the London art scene. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Art for art’s sake is not my cup of tea.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD (IFC) Genre: Foreign Western. Three strangers on a train compete for a mysterious map in this Korean (!) Western. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 East meets West.
HEY HEY IT’S ESTHER BLUEBURGER (Monterey Media) Genre: Indie Comedy. A young Jewish girl flees her Bat Mitzvah to try and fit in a hipper family while masquerading as a Swedish exchange student. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 I’ve seen Undercover Brother but Undercover Jew?!
LET IT RAIN (IFC) Genre: Foreign Drama. When a family gathers to bury its matriarch, the housekeeper’s son resolves to make a documentary about Agathe, the politically oriented daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 The French excel at such dramas but I’ve seen quite a few of them lately.
THE LOSERS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Action. A highly trained group of special ops agents are betrayed from the inside and go on the hunt to restore their name. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 Like the A-Team with an edge…

APRIL 28, 2010

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (IFC) Genre: Horror. A mad scientist attempts to fuse people together in a reverse engineering of Siamese Twins. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Could be delightfully weird.

APRIL 30, 2010

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (New Line) Genre: Horror. A remake of the iconic 80s horror film starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddie Krueger. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 One, two, Freddie’s coming for you…
FURRY VENGEANCE (Summit) Genre: Family Comedy. When a developer plans to put houses where a forest used to be, the critters that live there fight back. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.8 I don’t think I’m ready to see ninja woodchucks.
THE GOOD HEART (Magnolia) Genre: Indie Drama. A bar owner who is drinking and smoking himself to death takes a young man under his wing. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Ready to belly up to this bar.
HARRY BROWN (Goldwyn) Genre: Indie Crime Thriller. A retired Special Forces soldier decides to fight back when young thugs take over his neighborhood. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Michael Caine as a septuagenarian Rambo? Slap me and call me Sally!
I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Comedy. A Texas criminal falls in love with his cellmate and escapes from jail four times to be with him. Release Strategy: Limited (Opening Wide on May 7). RATING: 3.0 Jim Carey as a hardened criminal? Stretches believability to the limit.
MERCY (IFC) Genre: Indie Romance. An author falls in love with the only critic that doesn’t like his work. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 James Caan and Scott Caan in the same movie? It’s Caan-tagious!
PLEASE GIVE (Sony Classics) Genre: Dark Comedy. A Manhattan couple purchases the apartment next door to theirs in order to expand their own living space, but the elderly woman living in it refuses to die. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 From the trailer this looks pretty twisted; just the way I like it.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES

Clash of the Titans, Leaves of Grass (Florida Film Festival), The Warlords (Florida Film Festival), Date Night, Kick-Ass, The Losers