MovieBuff’s Best Films of 2013

Posted: February 12, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Lists

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

2013 is over, and it’s time yet again to take a look back at the best films this past year had to offer.  This year, though, I found that in assembling this list, I just couldn’t limit myself to ten.  So, I’m expanding the roster slightly to The Top Twelve Movies of 2013, because I love the films in the twelfth and eleventh slots enough that not discussing them here wouldn’t have felt right.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my list:

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MovieBuff’s Ten Worst Films of 2013

Posted: February 11, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Lists

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

Mark Wahlberg, Will Smith, Harrison Ford, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock; what do all these big names have in common?  Well, they all happened to star in some of the worst movies I saw from 2013, and today, I’m reliving the nightmare and counting down the Ten Worst just for you guys.  The things I do for you people …

Let the therapy begin.

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The Lego Movie Review

Posted: February 10, 2014 by pecknt in Peck Reviews


Reviewed By: Nathanael Peck

Grown Ups, Man of Steel and The Lego Movie. These three films are polar opposites, not only in genre but the quality they present. However, that being said, they do share one specific thing in common; product placement. The product placement in Grown Ups is laughably bad, with several jokes wrapped around products like Dunkin’ Donuts and Pepsi. No doubt this is used to pay the budget of the film, and line the pockets of Sandler and friends. Man of Steel’s product placement, while not nearly as bad, was incredibly noticeable and distracting. Regardless, that did not necessarily affect the overall quality of the film, unlike Grown Ups. This brings me to The Lego Movie, the film I will be reviewing. While I am not one to tumble into the elaborate hyperbole, I do believe The Lego Movie may be the best use of product placement ever in film. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that The Lego Movie is actually a good, if not great movie.

The Lego Movie follows main character Emmet (Chris Pratt) who plays an over joyed, over optimistic construction worker who is too comfortable with conformity. His days go by with him simply following the ‘instructions’ (a wonderful side note to the instructions used to build Lego sets). His life continues until he stumbles upon Wildstyle(Elizabeth Banks) who is searching for something. Wildstyle, as well as a few others (including Emmet) are Master Builders. These Master Builders are minifigures with the ability to construct anything from the world around them. Not only is Emmet a Master Builder, but he is the Prophecy, the mini figure to save all the Master Builders from President Business (Will Ferrell). Business plan is simple, to shut down the portals connecting ‘worlds’ (different themed sets) and Kragle (super glue) everything together.

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

Posted: February 8, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

I don’t know about the rest of you, but in looking over a lot of the biggest spy characters in film or television, I’ve noticed something of a pattern, and it’s led me to formulating something of a theory.  That theory is as follows: that if you want to create a successful spy franchise, then the first letter of your main character’s name must be “J.”  Think about it, though; we’ve got James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer (of the T.V. series 24) and Tom Clancy’s famous CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who has returned to the big screen after a nearly twelve-year absence in director Kenneth Branagh’s reboot, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  And the respective styles of the fellow J’s has clearly had an influence on this new film, because the Jack Ryan in this movie spends more time doing actual espionage activity than just sitting in front of a computer and analyzing.  In the hands of any less-capable directors or just directors for hire, that would make for a perfunctory experience.  But under the skilled supervision of Branagh, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit winds up being quite the solid thriller, and maybe even a bit more solid than it should have been.

Serving as a prequel to all of the other films in the Jack Ryan franchise, this latest installment opens with Ryan (Chris Pine) studying abroad at the London School of Economics in 2001.  Upon seeing news footage of the September 11th terrorist attacks, he decides to enlist in the Marines and is deployed to Afghanistan, where he’s injured in a helicopter crash and is nursed back to health in rehab by Dr. Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley).  While in rehab, Ryan also attracts the attention of Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), a representative of the CIA who recruits Ryan into the fold as an analyst.  Now, all of that is just the prologue.  Cut to ten years later, when Ryan has developed in his new job, maintaining a cover as a Wall Street compliance officer, rather nicely and is holding a steady relationship with Cathy.  One day, Ryan notices suspicious financial activity involving trillions of dollars being held by Russian organizations.  The CIA decides to send him to Moscow to investigate, which requires crossing paths with Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh), a veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan who controls the funds, which total enough to leave the United States economy vulnerable to any sudden move — namely, an attack.  Cheverin is, of course, up to no good and it’s not long before Ryan is having to dodge bullets and engage in other dangerous activity in order to discover what Cheverin is planning.  And to make matters worse, that’s the time Cathy decides to fly into Moscow to surprise her fiancé.  Oh, what a tangled web these movies weave.

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PG Cooper’s Top Ten Films of 2013

Posted: February 6, 2014 by PG Cooper in Lists, PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

And here we are, the conclusion to the PGCMAs and my farewell to what I consider a strong year in film. My top five are my nominees for Best Director and Best Picture, with the number one film being the winner of both. To everyone who has enjoyed the PGCMAs this year, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy this list too.

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PGCMAs: Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Cast (2013)

Posted: February 5, 2014 by PG Cooper in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Actress

Amy Adams, American HustleIn a few short years, Amy Adams has quietly risen to become on the best working actresses in the industry. She has tremendous range, range which she puts to great use in American Hustle. This is a character that needs to be ruthless and cunning while still likable. In many ways, she’s the emotional core of the film and she does a great job.

Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineCate Blanchett is a lot like Meryl Streep in that no matter what she’s in, you know she’ll give an interesting performance. Her work in Blue Jasmine is among her most interesting. Blanchett takes a character which could have easily turned out horrible in the wrong hands and makes her feel real. She hits Jasmine’s emotional beats perfectly and really builds a three-dimensional person.

Sandra Bullock, GravityNot only does Sandra Bullock have the challenge of essentially being on her own for large chunks of the movie and not only does she have to react to the heavy circumstances her character faces, but she also needs to create a character and give her a complete arc with minimal dialogue. That’s not easy to do, especially in a film which is driven by spectacle.

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Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen, Blue JasminePraising a Woody Allen script seems rudimentary at this point, but man can he write. While Blue Jasmine does have Allen’s wit, the film falls in the darker half of Allen’s filmography. The real strength of the screenplay comes in the well-defined characters and the dialogue, particularly Jasmine’s.

Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder, The Place Beyond the PinesIf one were to watch a given scene in isolation, the magic of the script would not come through. Where the screenwriting shines is in the plot structure. This is a film which can be divided into three sections, but it feels like one seamless story with a rotating cast of characters. The structure also ties into the films themes of legacy and consequences nicely.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn DavisLike Woody Allen, the Coen Brothers are well-known for their great screenplays and it’s a streak they continue with Inside Llewyn Davis. This is a film full of interesting characters, great dialogue, and a dramatic story with a great blend of wit. There’s also a twist at the end which elevates the film’s themes greatly.

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Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Breakthrough Performance

This award is dedicated to the performers who are having their first prominent role, or are breaking away from their usual shtick.

Barkhad Abdi, Captain PhillipsIt’s you’re first film. You need to play a villain who is menacing and scary despite your small size and you also need to be very human. On top of that you need to go toe-to-toe with Tom Hanks. That’s hard, but Barkhad Abdi comes off like an old pro.

Andrew Dice Clay, Blue JasmineIt may seem weird to nominate a 56 year old man for an award which caters to young people, but Clay really showed a new side of himself in Blue Jasmine. Famous for his vulgar nursery rhymes, Clay actually plays a very sad character who feels really genuine to the point that there was a time he had some Oscar buzz.

Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale StationLast year, Dane DeHaan won for his work in Chronicle. This year his co-star is making his bid with his great work in Fruitvale Station. There’s a lot people have criticised Fruitvale for, but Jordan’s performance has received praise and rightfully so.

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Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Foreign Language Film

Thanks to a local independent theater, I’m finally able to have an award for foreign movies. I didn’t see many in 2013, but the ones I watched deserve to be celebrated.

A Touch of SinSpanning four different stories, A Touch of Sin is an ambitious film which examines the theme of violence in some really interesting ways. The film also features some well-staged scenes and good performances.

Blue is the Warmest ColorOf the three foreign films I saw in 2013, this one is certainly the most praised. The Palme D’Or winning film chronicles the romance between two young women in a very realistic manner through all the highs and lows.

The HuntA film about a teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student could have easily veered into sensationalized territory, but The Hunt never goes there. This film is instead a detailed enactment of what would happen in this situation. Mads Mikkelsen also gives a great performance.

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Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012′s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture Winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Comedy

It should be noted here that the focus isn’t just on what film is the funniest, but which one best mixes laughs with other elements.

American HustleIf you look at the story of the Abscam operation, there really isn’t much funny about it. Here, the comedy comes from the characters and their interactions. Bradley Cooper is especially playing for laughs and his bits with Louis C.K. are great. Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence also have some great comedic moments. Hell the term “science-oven” alone is enough to justify a nomination.

Inside Llewyn DavisThe tone is a lot more somber than the rest of the nominees, but Inside Llewyn Davis is still bursting with classic Coen Brothers wit. There are some brilliant gems of comedy here and I also love how seamlessly it blends with the drama.

This is the EndI wasn’t really sure how I was gonna take to This is the End, but the film ended up really working for me. Spoofing both apocalypse scenarios and more specifically celebrity culture, This is the End is a hilarious film which may stutter from time to time, but at the film’s best it truly is great comedy.

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