The Tens: Best Of Film 2007

My Top 10 for the year 2007 comes to you from the midst of the WGA Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, when there was some doubt about whether or not a typical Oscar telecast would even be possible without those striking scribes.

That would have been quite a shame, since 2007 is one of the very best (if not the best) cinematic years of the new millennium thus far. In almost any other year that decade, my #3 choice would probably have been my #1 choice.

Of course, the Oscars did happen, with major wins for Marion Cotillard, Diablo Cody, and the Coen Brothers, amongst others. But it’s interesting, and a little depressing, to imagine an alternate reality where we never saw a bunch of very deserving actors and filmmakers take home the gold for a job well done.

(A briefer version of this Top Ten list was first published in my “Confessions of a Dangerous Film Student” column in INsite Boston in early 2008.)

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Hard.in.the.City’s 2015 Oscars Drinking Game

SANDRA-BULLOCK-ENVELOPENo, Academy Awards drinking games are nothing new or novel, and yes, every other more reputable pop culture website has already posted one.

But if I’m going to be watching the Oscars, and I’m going to be drinking, and I’m going to be playing a game, I may as well be playing my own Oscars drinking game, so here it is.

I tried to avoid some of the most obvious ones, because I know me some Oscars, and if I wanted to, I could seriously get you drunk before 6 PM.

Have fun, everyone!

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The Not-Oscars 2014

not-oscars-2014Once again, it’s Oscar time.

This year’s race is gearing up to be one of the least predictable in recent memory. For every race that has an all-but-guaranteed winner (Julianne Moore, Best Actress; J.K. Simmons, Best Supporting Actor), there are as many that are truly up in the air — some with not only two possible winners, but several. Best Actor? It’s anybody’s guess whether it goes to Eddie Redmayne or Michael Keaton, and an upset by Bradley Cooper isn’t out of the question. Will the Academy reward Richard Linklater’s assured hand at shepherding Boyhood, a 12-year-in-the-making indie that’s full of genuine emotion and about as naturalistic as film can be, or Alejandro Inarritu’s brash, attention-grabbing stylings in the seemingly editless celebration of artistic ego Birdman? We’ll have to wait and see.

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The Tens: Best Of Film 2014

Nightcrawler-JAKE-GYLLENHAAL-CAMERA-DEAD-BODY-BEST-OF-FILM-2014It was a very good year at the movies… but a weird one. Reversing the trend of recent years, the summer blockbuster fare offered a surprising amount of good taste, from the goofy-fun Guardians Of The Galaxy to the surprisingly clever Edge Of Tomorrow. Even sequels like Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and unnecessary reboots like Godzilla offered something in the way of quality.

I saw many films I liked over the course of the year, and not too many that I didn’t. 2014 was not a year of masterpieces, save one or two, but a year when more movies than average were better than you’d think.

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‘Selma’ & Louie Z: Awards Season’s Historical Heavyweights

UNBROKEN Some films are great.

Some films are Important.

Some are both, some are neither. Many are one, attempting to be the other.

This time of year always unleashes at least one major release about a historical event we’re all familiar with, usually a true story, often centered around a major war or some other national or global watershed moment. Is it something about the onset of winter that makes us want to watch such stories?

No. It’s the Oscars.

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Into The Woods: ‘Looking’ Season Two Premiere // “Looking For The Promised Land”

looking-woods-season-2-premiere-bearded-fairyIt’s been nearly a year since Patrick, Dom, and Augustin signed off on us, and now they’re back, taking a relaxing weekend getaway to the woods.

But watch out, boys! These woods are full of bears!

And no, I do not mean the traditional Goldilocks, Berenstein, Winnie-the-Pooh variety. Portly, hairy gay men are on the prowl — beware!

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America’s ‘Most Violent': Chandor Explores The Price Of Prosperity

A-Most-Violent-Year-oscar-isaac-jessica-chastainYou don’t make a movie about Wall Street in 2011 unless you’re saying something about what’s going down in America. J.C. Chandor did that with the gripping drama Margin Call, taking us inside the offices of a fictional investment bank on the literal eve of the financial collapse that (temporarily?) crippled the United States in this new millennium.

Chandor’s next film, Deepwater Horizon, due later this year, will explore the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It’s obvious that the man has a bone to pick with capitalism, a fact also apparent in his third and, to date, best film, A Most Violent Year.

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History Boys: The Brilliant British Lads Of ‘Theory,’ ‘Pride’ & ‘Imitation’

ben-schnetzer-mark-ashton-pride It happens every year. That handsomely produced movie, often British, usually a period piece. It’s a perfectly fine film — unchallenging, uncomplicated, more or less forgettable. It has the right stars, the right tone, the right credentials, the right subject matter, and most importantly, the right budget for an awards campaign. (It helps if the Weinsteins are involved.)

Every year, one or two of these titles sneak their way into the Oscar race. Occasionally, they gain such steam that they actually win the big prizes. The most notable example in recent years? The King’s Speech, which won Best Picture shortly before no one ever spoke of it again. Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone mention The King’s Speech in conversation? Does it stick out in your mind as one of the strongest films of the past decade? The King’s Speech defeated Black Swan, Toy Story 3, Inception, and most shamefully, The Social Network, all movies I’ve heard people talk about over the past few years.

The King’s Speech is fine. But it didn’t deserve an Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s just that sometimes, the safest choice is the choice that takes home the big prize.

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