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Reel to Reel ranks 2013 in movies

And once again, we reach the end of another year. And as usual, I didn’t get to see as many movies as I wanted to. I saw most of the ones I was really excited about, all but one in fact (which wound up not being made at all, sadly). For the record, the ones I didn’t see yet that are still on my to-see list are American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street and Her, all of which will be readily available after the holidays, what with being award bait and all.

So here, for the second year (here’s last year’s list if you’re interested), the list of movies I saw this year roughly in order of how much I liked them, along with brief comments on a few films. This list includes made-for-TV, direct-to-video, and streaming films, as long as they were feature length. The rankings are based purely on how much I enjoyed watching the movie, and no other criteria. I caution you, though, that my opinions on rankings and such change frequently, so if you ask me to make this same list tomorrow, it may well be slightly different:

1. Saving Mr. Banks. Simply a beautiful movie that hits me hard as a writer. I get where both the characters of P.L. Travers and Walt Disney were coming from, I sympathize with them both, and I found the movie deeply moving. I know that a lot of it was conjured up for the sake of cinema, but I’m kind of afraid to look up how much for fear it would ruin the film for me.
2. Frozen. Disney’s best animated movie in years. I particularly like that the film was undeniably a love story, but at the same time, broke every major rule in the usual “princess” formula.
3. Man of Steel. A controversial choice to be this high, I know, but I don’t care. As someone who’s loved Superman since childhood, I thought this film was a worthy jumpstart for both the character and for DC’s effort at a cinematic universe.
4. Pacific Rim. The most underrated movie of the year, in my opinion. Visually exciting and a hell of a lot of fun.
5. Monsters University.
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
7. Ender’s Game.
8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
9. An Adventure in Space and Time. TV film about the original star of Doctor Who, William Hartnell, made in conjunction with the series’ 50th anniversary. I really liked it.
10. Evil Dead.
11. The World’s End
12. Oz, The Great and Powerful.
13. Star Trek Into Darkness.
14. Thor: The Dark World.
15. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
16. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part II.
17. The Rubber Room. Intriguing documentary about the New York public school system, specifically the practice that leaves teachers accused of assorted mistakes stranded without work for months or years without the opportunity to defend themselves.
18. Crystal Lake Memories:The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Good and terribly thorough documentary about the horror movie series. Make sure you’ve got the time to watch it, though – it’s SEVEN HOURS LONG.
19. Iron Man 3.
20. LEGO Batman The Movie: DC Superheroes Unite.
21. The Wolverine.
22. The Sound of Music. Live TV production of the classic musical.
23. Necessary Evil: The Villains of DC Comics.
24. Europa Report.
25. Superman Unbound.
26. Kick-Ass 2.
27. Warm Bodies.
28. Upstream Color. I really liked the director’s last movie, Primer, so I had high hopes for this one. I felt somewhat let down, though. The movie thought it was smarter than it really was.
29. Escape From Planet Earth.
30. Side Effects.
31. A Good Day to Die Hard.
32. World War Z.
33. Mister Scrooge to See You.
34. Jack the Giant Slayer.
35. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore.
36. The Purge. Intriguing idea – a world where all crime is legal for 12 hours a year – but the film is handled poorly, set up on a soapbox, has a horribly predictable ending and is so heavy-handed it’s impossible to enjoy as a thriller.
37. The Host. The only thing I have to say about this Stephanie Meyer adaptation is that I initially mistyped it as The Hose, and I couldn’t help but think that would have been a more interesting movie.
38. Riddick.
39. Oblivion. I challenge anybody to explain the backstory and plot of this film in a way that does not invite a six-year-old child to point out how outrageously stupid the aliens are. I DARE YOU.
40. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
41. Sharknado. I know that this TV production was supposed to be bad, but I disagree with those who think it was both bad and fun. I just didn’t enjoy it.


What I Watched In… November 2013

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

(Sharp-witted readers may notice the vast majority of these came in the last week, when school was out for Thanksgiving. The first few weeks of November were busy as hell for me. I’ve been trying to make up for lost time.)

1. Ender’s Game (2013), B+
2. Supersonic Man (1979), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
3. Doctor Who (1996), B-
4. Thor: The Dark World (2013), B+
5. An Adventure in Space and Time (2013), A-
6. Necessary Evil: The Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013), B
7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), B+
8. The Wizard of Oz (1939), A
9. Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), C-
10. Side Effects (2013), B-
11. Europa Report (2013), B
12. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973), B+
13. The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
14. Garfield’s Thanksgiving  (1989), A-
15. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948), B; RiffTrax Riff, B+
16. Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977), B; RiffTrax Riff, B
17. Get a Horse! (2013), A
18. Frozen (2013), A
19. Scrooge (1935), C+
20. The Polar Bears (2013), B-
21. A Christmas Carol (1954), B-
22. A Christmas Carol (1951), A-
23. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962), B+
24. Rise of the Guardians (2012), B

Thanksgiving at the Hemsworth House

Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

CHRIS: Hey bro, Happy Thanksgiving!

LIAM: Chris! So good to see you! I know it’s been a while, I’ve been pretty busy, y’know… running around, doing press for Catching Fire… it’s been a hectic month.

CHRIS: Hey, no need to apologize. I’ve been doing my rounds too, pressing the flesh for Thor: The Dark World.

LIAM: Man, the fans can be crazy, can’t they?

CHRIS: Yeah, yeah. Here, have some mashed potatoes.

LIAM: Thanks. (Eats.) So… how’s ol’ Thor doing?

CHRIS: Good, good. We just hit $171 million domestically. That ain’t nothing to sneeze at.

LIAM: No, noooooo…. And, um… how many weeks have you been out?

CHRIS: (Unintelligible mumbling.)

LIAM: What was that?

CHRIS: …three.

LIAM: Oh. Oh, well, that’s… that’s fine, you know. Nothing wrong with that. Cranberry sauce?

CHRIS: Of course. (Slurps.) So… Catching Fire?

LIAM: Well, since you asked, we just topped $200 million in our first week. Best November opening of all time and all that.

CHRIS: Hey, that’s great.

LIAM: And… oh gee, I’m sorry. Looks like that knocks Thor: The Dark World down to tenth.

CHRIS: What?

LIAM: Yeah, all the other spots are Harry Potter, Twilight and James Bond*. Sorry, bro.

CHRIS: Well, that’s all right. I mean, you’ve got to work it all in, since you’ve only got two movies left in the franchise. Thor, y’know, he could go on forever… Thor 3, Avengers 2 and 3… guest-spots in other Marvel movies… I could ride this train for the rest of my life.

LIAM: Until your hair starts falling out?

CHRIS: What?

LIAM: Nothing. Stuffing?

Catching FireJourney Into Mystery 83CHRIS: Don’t mind if I do. (Chews intently.) You know, it’s not really fair to compare here. I mean, you lucked your way into a franchise that’s got millions of books in print.

LIAM: True, it’s not like there’s any history behind Thor. I mean… the character has only starred in comic books since 1962. And, y’know, thousands of years of being worshipped as an actual mythological god. Not like anybody had a chance to find out about him.

CHRIS: At least I’m the star of my movie. People only go to your movie to see Jennifer Lawrence!

LIAM: People only go to your movie to see Tom Hiddleston.

CHRIS: Okay, that’s it. I’m taking this drumstick and going all Mjolnir on you!

LIAM: Sure you can pick it up? Your Box Office receipts don’t exactly look “worthy” if you know what I mean.

CHRIS: HAVE AT THEE, KNA–wait, hold on a second.

LIAM: What?

CHRIS: Why are we even celebrating Thanksgiving? We’re Australian.

LIAM: Oh. That’s right. I forgot.

CHRIS: Sorry, mate.

LIAM: No worries. Pass the Vegemite.

CHRIS: Didgeridoo a wallaby and all that.

LIAM: The guy writing this doesn’t know anything about Australian culture, does he?

CHRIS: Nope. (Kills 15 deadly spiders, snakes, and a koala bear.)

LIAM AND CHRIS: Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

*Source: Box Office Mojo.

The 2013 Holiday Movie Preview

Twice a year my podcast, the All New Showcase, devotes an episode to movie previews. This week, my fiance Erin and I look ahead at all of the big releases coming out in the months of November and December — which ones we’re excited by, which ones we’re passing on, and which ones look utterly ridiculous. If’n you’re so inclined, give it a listen.

All New Showcase #296: The 2013 Holiday Movie Preview

Rating My 2012 in Movies

The old year has ended, friends, and as usual, I didn’t see as many new films as I would have hoped. But I did see several, and by way of discussion, I’d like to share that list with you. These are the movies from 2012 that I saw, ranked in order of preference. TV movies and Direct-To-DVD features are included. (NOTE: Order of PREFERENCE, not an objective measure of QUALITY. I may recognize, for instance, that Citizen Kane is a BETTER Orson Welles film than, say, The Muppet Movie, but I’d rather watch Kermit the Frog and company every time.

So, from my favorite 2012 film to the least:

1. The Dark Knight Rises
2. The Avengers
3. The Cabin in the Woods
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Skyfall
6. Les Miserables
7. Django Unchained
8. Brave
9. The Hunger Games
10. Chronicle
11. Superman Vs. The Elite
12. Justice League: Doom
13. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
14. The Amazing Spider-Man
15. The Expendables 2
16. John Carter
17. Looper
18. Men in Black 3
19. Act of Valor
20. Prometheus
21. Red Tails
22. The Lorax
23. A Christmas Story 2
24. Finding Mrs. Claus
25. Silent House
26. Total Recall
27. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
28. Project X
29. The Woman in Black
30. Rock of Ages

Clearly, there are several films I wanted to see that I haven’t yet. Notable absences include Lincoln, Wreck-It-Ralph, Argo, and Life of Pi.